You have to forgive Lucinda Williams if she doesn’t always sound optimistic. She once described her perfect man as “A poet on a motorcycle. You know, the kind who lives on the edge, the free spirit. But he’s also gotta have the soul of a poet and a brilliant mind. So, you know, good luck.” Lucinda Williams doesn’t lie to herself.

Lucinda

That’s something you wont find on the radio today. Avril Lavigne sold millions of albums with a “punk rock girl” image yet she didn’t even write the songs on her uber-successful debut album “Let Go.” Kelly Clarkson won a glorified karaoke contest to get where she is. Lucinda Williams worked her way from the shadows to the spotlight on her own terms, she was known for turning down offers from major record labels to sign with indie ones.

Williams worked for over 20 years writing forthright country rock songs but not even sniffing arena level status. As country took off into the mainstream, Lucinda stayed behind to clean up. Her song “Passionate Kisses” earned her a best songwriter grammy in 1993. Mary Chapin Carpenter turned it from a witty release session to pop schlock. It wasn’t until 1998’s “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” that Williams found a spot on the map. She was all over critical top ten lists and the disc even made Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of all time list. Time Magazine named her the best American songwriter in 2002. And why? Because quite frankly, Lucinda Williams rocks.

Country legend Emmylou Harris said of Williams, “She is an example of the best of what country at least says it is, but, for some reason, she’s completely out of the loop and I feel strongly that that’s country music’s loss.” Williams has the southern twinge that manages not exclude anyone. Some have called her a female Hank Williams, and any comparisons to the Godfather of Country immediately conjures up images of whiskey, grimy bars and just plain ole hurtin’. Lucinda does not let the great one down, particularly with “Car Wheels.”

The song “Drunken Angel” sums her up well. Williams pines for an imperfect man, a “…savior singing the blues/A derelict in your duct tape shoes.” She yearns for the flaws in life and is damn proud of it. She knows where stands, and after hearing “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” you will too.

-Josh Kruk

(image from Photobucket)

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