Ode to Lucinda, Southern Apologist Edition

Although I’ve had no correspondence with her except for a couple of emails, I feel like I know Lucinda Williams (who once a very long time ago shared the stage with my back-up spiritual advisor/next door neighbor, James T Crow).

James T Crow

I feel like I know Lucinda because her mama talks like my mama used to talk.

You better do what you’re told.
When I get back this room better be picked-up.

I feel like I know Lucinda because we both grew up in an undiscovered Tennessee Williams play.

These lines from “Greenville” bring to mind my ol’ man:

You drink hard liquor; you come on strong.

You lose your temper when someone looks at you wrong.

And these the premarital I-and-I:

I see you sleeping in the car
Curled up on the back seat
Parked outside of a bar.

And these, the people of my region:

Born and raised in Pineola,
His mama believed in the Pentecost.
She got the preacher to say some words
So his soul wouldn’t be lost

My financial advisor/life coach Jacob T Williams turned me on to Lucinda. One day in ’92 0r ’93, he came down to visit and handed me a gift, a cd, Sweet Old World, Lucinda’s fourth studio album. Sharing music he ardently digs is typical of Mr. Williams (no kin to Lucinda). [1] Jake the Snake is what my personal Life Affirmer/Joke Curator Jim Klein calls “a cat.”

from left to right, I-and-I, Sue Kovacs, Jim Klein, Judy Birdsong

But back to that album: her voice, the arrangements, the tunes, the lyrics – the South.

The last time I saw her perform, she said it was nice to hear some Southern accents. Oh, to be a Southerner now is to be looked down upon,[2] and certainly the blood soaked Bible Belt with its heritage of hatred and poverty and ignorance must seem desitively toxic from afar, but for better or worse, “the land of cotton” is the plantation of American culture. No South would mean no yodeling hillbillies, no moaning blues singers, no Lester Young or Miles Davis.

No South means American cultural impoverishment.  Spills over into meaning no Rolling Stones.

But back to Lucinda. Find me one compilation album she’s on that she doesn’t dominate, whether it be her rendition of “Here in California” on that Kate Wolf tribute record or her duet cover with David Crosby on “Return of the Grievous Angel” on the Graham Parsons tribute album or her heartbreaking interpretation of Hank Williams’ “Cold, Cold Heart” on (guess what) Timeless, a Tribute to Hank Williams.

So when I’m down, like today, I can put on Lucinda and feel somewhat better because misery loves company, because she sings songs that cry commiseration.

But let’s give her the last word(s).

[1] In fact, it was Jake who turned Lo’Quacia and I-and-I onto NOLA Sunday Second Line., which you can join clicking here. If in a hurry, scroll down to the second video.

[2] For example, we’re very unfamiliar with dealing with six inches of snow (unlike Wallace Stevens’ “thin men of Haddam.”)

3 thoughts on “Ode to Lucinda, Southern Apologist Edition

  1. Minor point on a very good essay—the clean up your room quote is almost certainly her dad Miller telling the young Lu to get on it….otherwise excellent summation of the South Lu understands so well. Her late friend Tom Petty had the same innate wisdom of the Southern experience—Lu has always personified that spirit ….I often think of the Steve Young lines: “I got another song about the South/ Its White and Its Black/There aint no banjo on my knee/But that songs on my back/Its a long long way to Hollywood/and short chance for fame/all them city slicks are talking about down home/But I know that’s a southern game” Thanks for the words

  2. Pingback: 2018 Recap: Ch-ch-ch-anges – You Do Hoodoo?

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