Who is Lydia Loveless?

Studio: What Were We Thinkin

Jan 03, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Lydia Loveless burst onto the music scene virtually out of nowhere, and with a great story to boot—a small-town Ohio native, she made music with her sisters, before striking out as a solo artist. Raised with both a punk sensibility and a country music sweet tooth, she impressed many with her second album—and debut for Bloodshot Records—2011’s Indestructible Machine. Documentarian Gorman Bechard followed Loveless and her band around during the making of her fourth full-length album, 2016’s critically acclaimed Real.  

In many ways, Loveless isn’t a particularly interesting subject—not for any lack of talent on her part, but because she just comes off as just so…normal. The funny, sassy, down-to-earth, no-bullshit punk-minded country musician that you see onstage? That’s really her. It’s not a persona, it’s who she is, and it’s quite nice to see that reality and image are in fact one and the same. Much has been made of her country/punk personality, or the fact that she’s a lover of traditional country/the DIY punk ethos (which in itself is quite ‘traditional’ in its own way) yet isn’t afraid to deny her mainstream pop-loving side. In an interview with this writer at the time of Indestructible Machine, we both wondered with amazement about the fuss being made over that. The mundane nature of Who Is Lydia Loveless? doesn’t really address that, but it does show that the hype behind her isn’t something she’s buying into, because she recognizes that it’s not who she is.  We get a glimpse into her life as it is—tedium in the studio and on the road and all—but it’s not as interesting as one might think. Of course, that might just be the point—that Lydia Loveless is just a working-class small town country girl, no big whoop.   


But life has a way of interfering, and Who Is Lydia Loveless? highlights the limits of documentary making. Unbeknownst at the time, the heartbreak and pain going into and inspiring the dark material of Real was, in fact, real; her marriage—documented here in such a thorough manner that leaves the viewer thinking them to be a loving, happily-married punk-rock couple—was falling apart, resulting in a divorce shortly after filming, with Loveless uprooting herself to North Carolina, which ultimately means that by the time her audience sees Who Is Lydia Loveless?, the film’s answer to that question is already invalid—as if a 90-minute documentary could ever really encapsulate the complexity and fluid nature of a living person. 



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