Bowling With No Panties

Everybody's a critic. I am actually right.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Alt.Country Kicks Ass, and Lucinda Is the Queen.

"I loved Loretta Lynn and Hank Williams, but also Bob Dylan and the Doors and Jimi Hendrix," she says. "I don't see anything wrong with loving all kinds of music."

Lucinda Williams is one of my favorite female artists of all time. I was turned on to her by my bandmate. When he was first talking about her, I thought he was talking about Victoria Williams and I said, "The chick with the funky voice?"

He said, "Yeah." They BOTH have funky voices, but in different ways.

Lucinda said of her own voice (which is growly and thick with her accent and sort of limited in range note-wise but in my opinion raw, real, honest and full of longing, sex, and all the pain in the world): I’ve always thought of myself as a songwriter first, and I’ve always seen my voice as more of a vehicle to get my songs across. Looking back on it, I felt limited as a singer from the get-go, because I grew up listening to singers more in the folk realm, like Judy Collins, Joan Baez, and Joni Mitchell—all these singers who had amazing ranges and could just sing all over the place. I would try to do it and I couldn’t and I’d just get all frustrated. So I decided early on that I better become a really good songwriter, then I could be like Bob Dylan and nobody would care if I could sing that well because my songs would be really good.

They are. Her studio albums --which she is notoriously perfectionistic about -- are great. The album that's setting me on fire right now is Live @ The Fillmore. I have seen her live and she is a dynamic performer with a kick-ass backing band. This album has a lot of songs that were on her last two releases, Essence and World Without Tears and few older songs. What's great is that when she's live she puts so much more of herself into the songs and it really comes across.

It's her songs that I love the most. Her Southern Gothic sensibilities coupled with her economy of language go perfectly with the melodic moods she creates.

One of my favorite tracks on Live @ The Fillmore is "Pineola" -- it's a bouncy tune despite the depressing lyrics. It haunts me and I find myself singing it all the time.

When Daddy told me what happened
I couldn't believe what he just said
Sonny shot himself with a 44
And they found him lyin' on his bed

I could not speak a single word
No tears streamed down my face
I just sat there on the living room couch
Starin' off into space

Mama and Daddy went over to the house
To see what had to be done
They took the sheets off of the bed
And they went to call someone

Some of us gathered at a friend's house
To help each other ease the pain
I just sat alone in a corner chair
I couldn't say much of anything

We drove on out to the country
His friends all stood around
Subiaco Cemetery
Is where we lay him down

I saw his mama, she was standin' there
His sister, she was there too
I saw them look at us standin' around the grave
And not a soul they knew

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

Some of us, we stood in silence
Some bowed their heads and prayed
I think I must've picked up a handful of dust
And let it fall over his grave

I think I must've picked up a handful of dust
And let it fall over his grave


  • At 10:05 AM, Blogger Maulleigh said…

    I LOVE pineola!! "Mama believed in the Pentacost!!!!!!!" That albumn, Sweet old World, is so beautiful. I love which will. :( But I can take or leave her; some of her stuff I'm not crazy about. And sometimes I think her voice is kind of dead. It's hard to describe. I read a review once where the reviewer said she was the female Bob Dylan?!!?!!?!! I'm sure he must have meant voice-wise but I thought maybe he meant lyrics-wise and that's wrong. No one can write like Bob: not even the J. Mitchell or the R.L. Jones!

  • At 11:24 AM, Blogger bowling with no panties said…

    I think he might have meant good lyrics and songwriting but odd voice!? That would be how she's like Bob Dylan.

    She's a lot more introspective than Dylan, though.

    P.S. I need to be MAGIC and I shall be RAINBOW HIGH!!


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