October 12

Up Close and Personal With Lucinda Williams

Earlier this year, Lucinda Williams was invited to be a guest star on the podcast of the Foo Fighters’ guitarist, Chris Shiflett. It was Valentine’s month then, and the atmosphere was filled with intimate talk about Lucinda’s music and a little background about she started with her career.

In the episode of the podcast titled Walking the Floor, listeners learned more about the early days of Williams as a songwriter based in both California and Texas, as she worked hard to finally gain recognition and be heard by the giants of the music industry.

Williams started out way back during the 70’s and was deemed an Americana pioneer. Her musical style consists of a mix of roots-rock, folk, Southern drawl, and country. As a child, her first exposure to music involved listening to vinyl collections of protest music, folk, and blues. Prior to releasing her very first album, the singer endured a number of failures, including an audition at the former Opryland USA amusement park in Nashville that did not work out. It was the early seventies then, and Lucinda Williams’ only hope was to finally score a performing gig at the then-newly constructed attraction. Unfortunately, Williams simply was not the kind of artist the producers were looking for.

Thus, she headed west to California, where she finally bagged her first-ever recording deal.

Aside from California, Lucinda Williams also ventured into Texas, where she met Guy Clark and Steve Earl. As a newbie, Williams had to earn her right to join certain clubs or organizations that involved country cowboys who had a knack for mixing hard work by day and harder partying by night.

I was so intimidated by Steve Earl. It’s that Texas thing. Guy Clark is the same thing. I’d seen them and they’d come and be like, ‘What are you doing man? Are you high? You wanna get fucked up?’ it was that teasing thing all the time. Part of it was that machismo thing.’ Discloses Williams.

After she scored her first recording contract, she was also given a $250 signing bonus. She was only 20 years old then. She adds that in her contract, the terms were visible. It only had one page, and upon signing, she found herself depositing her check and making her way to Mississippi to record Ramblin’ on My Mind. It was a cover album that was later on renamed to just Ramblin’.

As a songwriter, Williams describes her style as ‘not real disciplined.’ She’d have to go through spurts of activities because she just kind of gets in the mood instead of just sitting down with a pen in hand and a piece of blank paper waiting to be inked on the table. “I’m always writing in my head. When we go out and we’re at a bar, I always have a pen and notepad with me, and I get ideas and I write them down and I keep them in a folder, so my head is always in that space. When I get this feeling—the muse visits me—I get my folder out with all my stuff I’m working on.”

According to Lucinda Williams, she describes the industry of country music as nothing but basically the same as it was in the past. “It’s never going to change. They said that their artists are cutting-edge, but no…. Sorry. The artists they consider cutting-edge are still very mainstream.”


country artists, Lucinda Williams

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