Almanac Music: Not Quite Bob – Lucinda Williams

 

 

 

 

Not Quite Bob – Lucinda Williams

 

Last week the not very famous James McMurtry, this week the much famouser Lucinda Williams.  She of the Southern drawl, the aching voice, the fierce lyrics and the great songs.  The many, many great songs.  Born in Louisiana after the War and before the Sixties I first became aware of Lucinda at the time of the release of her third Album in 1988, the self-titled Lucinda Williams.  Full of terrific, acerbic, gutsy songs not least this one.

 

 

 

 

Songs of heartbreak and regret, anger and tenderness in equal measure, Lucinda has had a long and distinguished career that covers 15 studio albums (I’ve got 12 of ‘em) plus a ripping series of albums of covers of famous artists and songs, more of which later.  Those albums include Sweet Old World, Car Wheels On A Gravel Road, West, Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone (and note I’ve left out some beauties) which, impossibly seem to get better with each release.  If you want to audition one, knowing as I do that most will already be Lucinda fans, you can’t go past this, 2016’s The Ghost Of Highway 20.  Probably my favorite but on another day I could name others.

 

 

 

 

And from that album, bearing in mind my theme here, the very Bob-ish Dust.

 

 

 

 

In a consideration of Lucinda it has to be noted that she never stands still.  Her current touring band is full of crack, much younger musicians who I saw live at Rochford Winery at an A Day On The Green gig a few years ago.  Mesmerising.

 

To add a layer to her own catalogue she has also recorded a terrific (is it a jazz crossover?) album with Charles Lloyd and the Marvels (on Blue Note no less) called Vanished Gardens.  From that, and on the Bob theme then, this.

 

 

 

 

In 2020 she released Good Souls Better Angels which I also commend to your playlist.

 

Again, with the not standing still thing, last year she also recorded a series of tribute at home concerts (Covid dontcha know) featuring covers of prominent songs from artists like Tom Petty, the Stones, a set of 60’s country classics and a set of Memphis and Muscle Shoals tracks and, yes, 11 famous and lesser known Bob Dylan songs.  Including this.

 

 

 

 

You can find all of these as album downloads on her website for the sinful low price of USD10.  Get ‘em, you won’t be sorry.

 

So, Lucinda Williams then.  Compelling, talented, prolific, acclaimed.  Grammies, Americana Awards, frequently covered by other artists, she is the real deal.  I hope to see her again (a few recent health issues she’s had nothwithstanding) and if you get a chance to, you should try too.  Not Quite Bob but 100% Lucinda.

 

 

You can read more from Trevor Blainey HERE.

 

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Comments

  1. If the first two artist you’ve covered is anything to go by this is going to be a fun exercise.

    Lucinda is the real thing. As you note, from her eponymous (first) album on, she has maintained an incredibly high standard. My standout from her first album is Side of the Road.

    These last few cover albums are a lockdown tonic, if a bit hit and miss. I do like her Queen Jane cover and Ode to Billy Joe. She could have spared us her attempt at Together Again. But that’s fine considering she’s gifted us Joy, Unsuffer Me, 2 Kool and Passionate Kisses.

    Cheers

  2. Trevor Blainey says

    Fun is the aim Rick. My feeling is that Bobs influence goes far and wide so we’ll see how the trip goes. There won’t be many surprises in the first few but long bows will be drawn as I progress. Cheers to you too.

  3. Bernard Corden says

    I went to see Lucinda Williams at an evening concert at Stanley Park in Vancouver back in the summer of 2008. It was quite strange with daylight at 22:00 hours but her performance of “Those Three Days” was unforgettable.

    Another favourite is Steve Earle who I managed to catch at Tarrytown Theatre in upstate New York about ten years ago.

  4. Cool, my first memory of her was ‘I changed the locks’. As a big Hank fan I wondered if she was related to him? Clearly not , but another Williams whose contribution to music is top notch.

    ‘Car Wheels On A Gravel Road’ is often a staple for the CD player on our journeys: Eden, Ardlethan, Temora, etc. Not too many albums manage to avoid having a dud track. This is one of the few.

    Would love to see her perform live. If anyone is aware of her returning to do a show(s) Victoria, I’d love to know about it.

    Glen!

  5. Yeah, she’s a ripper. Her eponymous album was my first, but Car Wheels is my fave, and one of the best albums ever made I think. With the song Right In Time one of the best about masturbation, I’m told.
    She does a spooky cover of The Stones Dead Flowers.

  6. Dear Lucinda (I’m sure Trevor will pass this onto you),
    Why did I ever doubt you. Loved “Passionate Kisses” from the start. But the slightly homogenised “nice girl” Mary Chapin Carpenter version.
    Bought the “Car Wheels” CD. Loved that song and Lake Charles but the rest washed over me. Wrong place – wrong time.
    Saw you in concert with Paul Kelly, Hoodoo Gurus and Steve Earle a few years back. You finished fourth in my performer rankings that night. It was an odd concert. So many great acts reduced many to 30 minute warm up act gigs for PK. You seemed drunk and disinterested. But that was probably me. I never understood southern drawl didn’t mean drunk.
    I’ve grown up a little. Slowly. Eventually. You and Jason Isbell are my contemporary favourites. The poetry, the lilt (not drawl), the flow, the languid guitar of your songs is a constant presence.
    Hope we can still be friends. Apologies,
    Your drunken “angel” PB

  7. Peter Crossing says

    Thanks Retrotrev. Good videos
    I enjoy much of her music although sometimes it can be bit hit and miss. I really like the early Lucinda Williams album, particularly Changed The Locks with its unusual structure and also her version of the Howlin’ Wolf blues, I Asked For Water (He Gave Me Gasoline). Car Wheels is a great album that features some terrific songs about life and love, old and not so old drunken angel bluesmen and places in the South that you just want to visit. If only to find that they are probably not all that different.
    Her duet with Steve Earle on You’re Still Standing There from his first post-slammer album I Feel Alright also rollicks along.
    Unfortunately her Canberra concert of a few years ago was a little underwhelming.
    The sprawling Lake Charles from Car Wheels mentions the east Texas town of Nacogdoches.
    Smartarse Quiz question: What two other contemporary songs also mention Nacogdoches?

  8. Tony Forbes says

    Hi Glen, nice to know there alre like minded people out there that recognise Lucinda’s talent for writing heart wrenching songs with a distinct edge. I too am in possession on 10 or so albums and would say that Sweat Old World is my fave — so many great songs! Her live double album is a pearler too and she has attracted some brilliant guitarists over the years – Gurf Morlex, Doug Pettibone (my favourite) and the current line up. There is an excellent live performance of her and a stripped down backing band on Tiny Desk Concerts on YouTube. The band is a cracker!
    I saw Lucinda live at the Concert Hall in Melbourne iaround 2015? Buick 5 were her backing band.
    Cheers
    Tony

  9. Trevor Blainey says

    Been a bit busy around our way with a son returning from across the big water to get hitched so I haven’t responded to many of these. Pleased this one has stirred some Lucinda fondness. I was struck by Peter_B recognising latent Lucinda yearnings late in the piece which is how my NQBs started about Dylan. Still better late etc etc …. I guess Pete. I’ll pass on your regards. Peter Crossing I wouldn’t know the answer to the Nacogdoches question without going to Google so let us into it. Seeing her live somewhere else would be fun too Bernard. I’ll take Memphis or Nashville as my picks or maybe Austin. If i saw her and Steve Earle at the Ryman that would suit just fine.

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