It’s a happy coincidence that Blessed, the new album by Lucinda Williams, is out today, the very same day as my book, Right By Her Roots. I mean, the entire first chapter of the thing is devoted to Williams (and each chapter after to a different songwriter). Blessed wasn’t done in time for me to work it in, but I did get the chance to talk with her about the new music back in December, and a lot of that conversation made it into a feature in the new issue of American Songwriter. http://www.americansongwriter.com/current-issue/
When I got the album advance in the mail, popped it in the player and started listening, I remembered something I really dig about her writing. She’s been pegged as dark plenty over the years. But it’s not necessarily that Williams’ music is dark—it’s that she dances on a life-and-death ledge; writes about it, tries to pull others back from throwing themselves over the edge of it and, sometimes, needs others to pull her back.
More than once, she’s told me a saying of her dad’s on the subject: “My dad used to describe it as there’s a deep, dark well, and we’re all standing on the edge of the well looking in. Everybody’s standing there. He said, ‘Some people jump in and some people don’t. Therein lies the difference.’ That’s pretty much the way I look at life.”
There’s a pair of slow-burning soul numbers on Blessed that bring this push-and-pull to life. One is “To Be Loved”, Williams’ reminder to a soul out on the ledge that she or he was, as the title says, born to be loved, not wounded. Then there’s “Convince Me”. That’s Williams plea to be reminded of the same thing herself. “Even when I’m trying to convince other people,” she told me, “I need to be convinced.”
And what could be more human than that?