EARLY WORD: Like A Cat On A Hot Tin Roof


Lucinda Williams is stillĀ  the beloved revolutionary sweetheart of the alt-country rodeo. All of us literate roots-rock boys still daydream about her the same way we used to daydream about Liz Phair. We know all about her because we read The New Yorker. We know about her father’s literary standing and her mother’s madness; we know about her dead boyfriends and her Southern pedigree. We know about her open-armed embrace of all the humid folkloric strangeness the region holds: the sweaty danger of juke joints, the satanic deals at the crossroads, the Pentecostal hellfire and brimstone, and the taking up of serpents. We know about her deep blue melancholy, the crying jags that go on for days, the tears that literally blur the lyrics she inks in her notebook into Rorschach haiku. car_wheels_on_a_gravel_road.jpgAnd we love her for all this. We love the way her voice sounds like she been up all night doing God knows what; the way it tremulously hugs the vowels in the names of those Southern towns that roll off her tongue–Jackson, Greenville, Lake Charles–each one a lonely capital of magic and loss on the road map of her immaculate heart. We love her irrational perfectionism, how she recorded Car Wheels on a Gravel Road three separate times over three years until finally she made the most perfect album released in the ’90s — and deep down, we knew all along that whatever came after it could never live up to our expectations. Six albums later, including to the new Blessed, that’s still more or less true. But hey, DaVinci only had one Mona Lisa in him and besides, usĀ  literate roots-rock boys still love her — maybe even a little more when she fucks up.— JONATHAN VALANIA


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