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Lucinda Williams
(Photo: lucindawilliams.com)

(Photo: lucindawilliams.com)

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Singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams still remembers when she first hit the music scene in Nashville and LA and was told she was “too rock for country” and “too country for rock.”

Many albums later, the three-time Grammy winner is up for a fourth for her album “Little Honey.”

She’s found love, and a voice all her own. This hour, On Point: a conversation with alternative country-rocker, Lucinda Williams.

Guests:

Lucinda Williams joins us from Burbank, California. Time Magazine has called her “America’s best songwriter.” Her latest CD, “Little Honey,” has been nominated for a Grammy Award for best Americana album.

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  • Kash Hoffa

    Uggh! Awful topic this hour!

  • Putney Swope

    Considering the health care crisis and how it has shown that we have a dysfunctional congress and president, I would agree. However, sometimes a little light fare is needed. Personally I’m not a big fan of country music.
    Neither was Buddy Rich…

  • Jim

    I’ve enjoyed her music since a friend gave me a tape with “Pledge Your Love”.

    “Side of the Road” is a stunningly powerful song. I especially like the simpler arrangement of the live version; I think it better represents a stream of inner thoughts and personal dialogue. When I listen, I imagine that the, “la,la,la” verse represents thoughts to intimate to speak.

    Jim

  • Stephanie

    Oh thank you for this interview! I was also given one of her cd’s and absolutely fell in love with her sound, it’s unmistakable and transportive. Thank you!

  • Alex G.

    The poor woman is not a good interview. Among other things, she needs to strike “you know” from her vocabulary.

  • Dan Reedy

    In August 1995 I lost my kid brother and then the following March lost my best friend. I believe that Sweet Old World had been out for about a year at the time and I listened to that album for the next year and shared it too with anyone who was interested in my loss.

    I thought that the song Sweet Old World told it all. But then there was “Little Brother, Little Angel” and “He Never Got Enough Love” which spoke to and for me too. And my friend David, coincidentally, had these huge crows feet around his eyes which were amplified when he smiled – and you knew about that too.

    Thanks for the music.
    Dan

  • Joan

    So sad to hear Lucinda is still drinking!!! She just played in Poughkeepsie NY (last month) and was so drunk on stage that she could barely perform. I thought she had gotten sober. I am a HUGE FAN for years… and hope she gets into rehab soon!!! Such a talent wasting away…..

  • http://ncpr.org Edward Alfonsn

    That woman may be the greatest singer since the angels in Bethlehem at Christmas, but can she utter a single sentence without inserting “you know” into it at least once?

    It is so annoying that I had to turn off the station.

    Edward Alfonsin
    Potsdam, New York

  • BJ Larson

    She is awesome!! Just fantastic. My husband hates country music, so years ago was really hesitant to accompany me to go and see her. After the concert, he was just hooked and said, that’s not country music!! She’s a rocker, fer sure….

  • sad for her

    with all of the people she has watched and sang about dying in her life, it is truly a waste and a shame she has not faced her own serious addiction problems honestly and gotten help. her drinking has affected her life and her career and it’s a miracle it hasn’t killed her yet.

  • Putney Swope

    Not to mention she seems to have trouble with holding a conversation. It seemed to me that she was not firing on all cylinders.

  • Lauren Seidman

    I would like to hear any of you give a live interview over the phone without inserting filler! And it’s curious that comments that refer to her drinking speak of wasted talent. Lucinda is more prolific and popular than ever, nominated for a Grammy, in a healthy relationship for the first time in her life…why so judgmental? Where is the waste? She is a genius, and her work is a gift.

  • Marie

    If you listen to anybody who’s being put on the spot, they’re gonna be saying “y’now” and “i mean”. It was great interview. I was fortunate enough to talk to her after a concert– she’s a smart, interesting, and friendly person to talk to. Not to mention extremely talented.

  • Why_Didn’t_I_Say_That

    Lucinda has deeply affected many lives with her music and her journey as an artist. Car Wheels is one of those albums, if listened to on a great stereo, or even better with great headphones, and at the right time, it will change how you see the world, the people who wander through it, and ultimately, how they (we) love each other. She has made a larger impact on a larger number of people, than all of our combined internet postings ever will. She can “humm”,”umm” and “ya’know”, all she pleases – a very small trade off for the pleasure of the music and the stories. I would love to see the last song that any of the above disparaging posters has written… yeah, I didn’t think you had one. Lucinda, thank you for sharing your talent and your stories; I have certainly benefited from hearing what you have to say, from way back in Kerrville! *appreciation* WDIST

  • Cathy

    Lucinda’s talent is outstanding. She is a great poet, singer and to see her in concert is a treat.Rips into your soul and sets it free!

  • miguel

    Is it possible to get a podcast of this interview? I see a podcast for the story on Iran from the same day but not Lucinda. Or, is there an mp3 version I can download? Many thanks!

  • Alan

    Lucinda’s statement that she does not drink before concerts or on stage can’t be true. I saw her at Lupo’s in Providence RI last November and she was clearly on something. It was not a very good performance. Above here and on her fan website there are other comments about erratic behavior. Still, I remain a devoted fan and hope she doesn’t self destruct.

  • Jaron

    Lucinda who? Come on, OP, could you please book a relevant guest? Oh, and Lucinda was clearly on something during this interview.

  • Eve

    What a refreshing interview! I personally enjoyed Ms. Williams’ conversational tone; she is an electrifying live performer and an extraordinary talent unlike anything you’re likely to encounter elsewhere today. For those who thought she was drunk, you clearly have never heard people from southern Louisiana talk!

  • Brett

    I’ve been listening to Lucinda for decades. She, to me, is in the same league as all the great singer-songwriters from (and I hate to pigeon-hole anyone, sorry) Americana/Roots/Folk, such as, Townes Van Zandt, Jerry Jeff Walker, Steve Earle, Blaze Foley, Jeff Tweedy, Kate Wolf and so on. She (they) brought/bring a kind of literary sensibility to song writing. I have been inspired by all of those song writers for so long. I probably would not have written songs if not for those folks.

    I can’t comment on Lucinda’s drinking. I not only don’t know her personally, I also don’t think it is a good idea to pass judgement on someone in such a presumptuous manner. I do know that there might be all kinds of reasons for such snap, off-the-cuff criticism. People often find accents other then the ones they are used to to be off-putting. They also often confuse nervousness with inarticulateness. Is that fair?

    There are many more reasons that confuse someone’s impression of another person. I don’t drink at all, but I do have type I diabetes, and I have had times when I seemed a bit glassy eyed and had slurred speech because of an insulin reaction; others accused me of being drunk…of all the aspects of this interview people could focus on, from Lucinda’s early development as an artist and her influences at home (her father, Miller Williams, is a poet of some renown, and he introduced her to many fine writers) to her years of paying dues, people wish to focus on what may or may not be a personal problem of hers…

  • Bob D.

    I’m listening to this interview and I don’t hear apparent drunkenness or substance abuse at all. Maybe the accent and style of speaking is what influenced others to comment as such. I think Lucinda is not as comfortable in an interview as she is songwriting or singing onstage, where she excels. But it sounds like a great interview, and Lucinda is a great talent.

  • Tom Overby

    I guess sometimes the truth just isn’t good enough is it? Sorry to ruin it all for you but some the comments being made above are hurtful, injurious and irresponsible. And when they get as idiotic and mean as Jaron’s its hard not to respond. Lucinda was not “on something” during this interview- I know because I was there when the alarm went off at 630 AM here in LA where we live -she got ready and we had a cup of coffee and then I drove her to the interview which started at 8 am (PST). And no she wasn’t hungover either – in fact she skipped a big reunion of old friends the night before to get to bed early. After we left the interview she was very concerned about the alcohol question and how she answered it. I told her that I thought she handled it perfectly. While the question was completely inappropriate and frankly nobody’s business- and certainly one she didn’t have to answer in a public forum – she did answer it -and to her credit she answered it completely honestly. That’s who she is- the most honest person i’ve ever met-and it’s just one of the things that makes her the artist that she is. And for the record she wasn’t on something in Poughkeepsie and she wasn’t on something at Lupo’s in Providence. I’ll be honest the Providence show was not the best of nights, it’s live music played by human beings and not every night can be amazing, and this year she played consistently higher level than i’ve ever seen her. Out of nearly 100 shows I could count the off nights on one hand. I’m there every night and I don’t know how she does it. An off night like Providence doesn’t automatically mean she’s on something-maybe she was just flat exhausted after playing 85 different songs over three consecutive 3 hour shows in NYC, which ended a run of 8 shows in 10 nights. Not an excuse but just maybe the real truth. I tour with her and have seen every show she has played for the last 3 years, and I can tell you that no gives everything she has every single night like Lucinda, and no one is more upset when a show isn’t what she wants it to be -and sometimes that works against her, because she wears it all on her sleeve. Sorry to bust all the self destructive tortured artist theories but the next time you go out on the internet and blabber on about someone being on something, consider that maybe you don’t know the truth and maybe it is really damaging to that person. Being a public figure doesn’t mean you have a right to slander them. How would you like it every time you had an off day at the office-or maybe not even an off day- people went on the internet and said you were on something and you were not able to defend yourself?

    Tom Overby
    Hello Cleveland Mgmt. (and Lucinda’s husband)

    PS –Jaron -it’s really sad that you don’t have anything better to do with your time that go on the internet and take potshots at people. No one made you listen to the show. I hope you get a new life for Xmas this year, because obviously the one you have must be miserable.

  • mary hunt

    Lucinda crosses all land. Her songs get under your skin you feel the dirt under your feet. Lucinda thanks for your words and voice giving us insight to our lives. Best Wishes!! Iris Dement, Susan Tudeschi and Lucinda speak the truth. A midwesterner who is not a teenager anymore, but your music makes me feel very young and alive.

  • Brett

    Thanks for setting the record straight, Tom Overby. Lucinda is an important talent in the singer-song writer world. I was amazed that people judged her interview so harshly, and just because a listener doesn’t know who she is and what she has done over the course of her career, this does not diminish her importance in the music world. Her songs do her talking, and her interview revealed a very down to earth person without pretensions. I am a performing song writer on a very small scale, and I would hate to have people speculate about all sorts of nonsense if I had an off night. As you say, not every night can be a stunning performance; it’s the nature of live music. It is also what makes those moments so special when one can witness a truly inspired performance by a truly authentic artist. Unfortunately, many have some desire to put everything into a tabloid context; it’s sad, really.

  • Andrea

    I just wanted to say thank you Lucinda. You’re an amazing woman and I find much needed strength and comfort in your songs. It’s a crazy world we all live in and sometimes it’s hard to focus on the beauty when you see all that’s going wrong. It’s good to know that there are dreamers among this earth and with giving out that energy it attracts those people around you and gives you hope that change is possible. Music is so powerful and what brought my husband and I together. We could have a soundtrack to all of our ups and downs, thoughts and dreams, when we aren’t connecting it brings us back together. I just want to thank you and all of the amazing musicians out there for the truth that comes thru your heart and soul.

  • Tim

    I am SO glad that Lucinda’s husband Tom posted his remarks. As a big Lucinda fan, I’ve listened to other interviews, and heard Lucinda talking on stage as well. I was shocked that people made those comments because I heard nothing wrong. For people to expect a very talented artist (of any type) to be a certain way in an interview shows a certain ignorance, in my opinion. We don’t get On Point on our station, so I don’t know what topics are typical. I’m guessing Mr. Ashbrook doesn’t regularly interview musicians, and his listeners aren’t used to it. Maybe he loves Lucinda too, and wanted her on his show–especially with the Grammy nomination.

    I was really glad someone asked about the song “Real Live Bleeding Fingers and Broken Guitar Strings”. I wanted to know what she would say about the song “Those Three Days”. A song of simple poetic imagery conveying a gut-wrenching feeling. An amazing song, especially the way Lucinda sang it live.

    Thank you, Lucinda!

    PS. A Lucinda/John Hiatt collaboration would be cool. Or James McMurtry.

  • Rhonda

    Fantastic interview. Lucinda handled each question perfectly with honesty and sincerity. She’s a magnicifant talent and if you ever have a chance to see her livr, do so. She can tear the house down one minute and then bring it down to the point where you could hear a pin drop. She’s a pro. A master of her craft.

  • http://www.benhackett.com Ben

    I have had the great pleasure of meeting Lucinda at her New York shows this year. I spoke to her after every show,Lucinda even played MPLS my favorite song, and sundays which she never does. She is the sweetest most down to earth passionate artist and human being. Lucinda really cares about her fans. I find it insulting for someone to accuse her of being drunk on stage or having a drinking problem. I am a artist myself and as an artist we want to hear stories from people about how are songs touch them or how they relete to our work (lyrics). So sad that people can’t focus on the art here which is beautiful. My luv to lou and Tom xoxo Ben

  • Robin

    Great interview with an amazing artist! And Tom, you straight up rock. I absolutely loved Lucinda’s response to the question about her drinking (which clearly wasn’t asked by a thinking person). I especially enjoyed Lucinda’s laughter preceding her response. Keep on walkin Lucy Bella. Some people aren’t worth your thoughts and definitely not your pain.

  • April

    This is a great interview with Lucinda who is just the most amazing performer I’ve ever heard or seen. I first heard her live “in the round” at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville in the mid 1990′s. I later heard her at Humphrey’s in San Diego and one other live performance somewhere sometime. She sounds just like herself in the interview – laid back Southern voice and thoughtful comments – perfectly great interview, as is the artist. Thanks Lucinda for all the joy and feeling you bring to all your fans. Love you!

  • auramac

    I haven’t heard the interview, but am shocked by the hostility and ignorance of some of these comments. Whether or not Lucinda is or was ever under the influence, I do not know- I’ve been following her career since the beginning and do know she has quite the Southern drawl. She is beyond country, also rocks and can sing the blues. I feel like I’m on TMZ judging by the tone of some of these comments, particularly on the part of people who’ve obviously never heard of her (their loss) and have nothing better to do than talk trash. LOOK IN THE MIRROR, DUMMIES!

  • http://www.neatlyreal.com Gary Allen

    I used to date Lucinda in ’77 in Houston for a few months and that’s just her manner…slow talking and slow moving. It’s just the way she rolls. I can see how someone who has never heard her and hears that she is a musician/songwriter, might think that she’s talking and moving slow cause she’s “on something” or drunk, but they just don’t know her. She’s very mellow but intensely driven…even in 1977. We played each other’s songs at my house once and she accidently left hand-written lyric pages of a few of her songs and I thought it was strange that she had a copywrite notice on every page…I didn’t do that on my lyric pages. Looking back, I can see that she knew where she was going, way back then.

    -Gary Allen

  • ~ Southerner in Boston

    I know this show/posting was from a year and a half ago (I just happened to come upon the webpage Googling for a quote), but I have to comment, even if no one’s reading anymore. (For the record, though, I actually remember hearing this interview when it originally aired–I’m a regular OP listener.) Lucinda Williams is absolutely amazing!! I hadn’t even been born yet when her first albums came out, but I am a HUGE fan of her work, and as far as I’m concerned, she’s only gotten better over time. I was fortunate enough to see her last week at the House of Blues in Boston, and she simply blew the crowd away. Even songs from her brand new album Blessed, which not many people in the audience could have known very well considering it came out only a few days prior to the show, had people singing along and dancing half a verse in. Awesome show! And how refreshing is it to hear such honesty in response to those nosy listener questions! To the poster who says she sounds like she’s “on something,” perhaps he should crawl out from under his rock and experience some of the world beyond his own nose–that is the sound of a Southern accent, in all its glory. :)

  • Beclareesq

    I just stumbled across this interview and find it very interesting and insightful. If you don’t converse with people about their thoughts in an honest way you might not appreciate her approach. That would be your problem, and not hers. Great interview Tom. She is a world treasure.

  • Jeff S.

    I saw her in Omaha this week. Great show–she is a surprisingly subdued performer, reminding me of Roy Orbison or Brian Wilson, but her voice was great.

    Her band was awesome, and in particular she was touring with a new guitarist Blake Mills who is quite simply one of the best guitarists out there, in a league with Stevie Ray Vaughn, the late Danny Gatton, Junior Brown and Steve Morse. There was nothing he couldn’t do with that guitar.

    Each and every one of her releases is a gem, and I look forward to seeing her again the next chance I get.

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