Lucinda Williams

Yes, there's a whole world of music out there besides Patty.

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Postby sfboy » Tue Oct 21, 2008 2:21 pm

I'm obviously in the minority here, but just to clarify... :)

I have, I think, a different take on Lucinda and her music, though I know a lot of people disagree. I've always thought that, in a way, she was highly overrated in the sense that I've read numerous interviews and articles that refer to her as one of the best songwriters in the U.S. today. I really like Lu's CDs and her songs, but I've never thought that her songs are amazing (well, some are, but on a whole, not). I've always thought that her interpretation of her songs is brilliant. Somehow her voice with her words and melodies really combine well. But I've always thought that her lyrics are mostly pretty simplistic. I like Essence, too, but I think that many of the lyrics are very similar in "quality" to, say, If Wishes Were Horses. I was just looking over the lyrics to Lonely Girls, Blue, and the chorus to Essence, and they all seem pretty simplistic. Again, that's not necessarily a bad thing in the way that I hear it because it works really well for Lucinda. But I don't see a huge difference between the lyrics in Little Honey and Essence or Car Wheels. I absolutely adore the song Jackson, but the lyrics for that song are super simplistic. Again, the beauty in that song has more to do with Lu's rendering of those lyrics, the gorgeous melody, and the great musicianship in the song.

As for CDs, for some reason I've never totally fallen for Car Wheels. I know that it's widely thought of as her masterpiece, but it's just never hit me that way, though I like it.

For me, Lucinda Williams and Sweet Old World are absolutely amazing. They are completely different from everything else she's done. I know that the production value isn't as good, but for me, those songs are her absolute best. She tells more stories on the songs on those CDs, and they're shorter and have more bang for the buck, so to speak. I Just Wanted to See You So Bad, The Night's Too Long, Side of the Road, Crescent City, Abandoned, Six Blocks Away, Pineola, Something About What Happens When We Talk, Lines Around Your Eyes--man, those are all just amazing songs. You can blast 'em in the car and sing along, or play them at home and still feel moved. So for me, there are those 2 Lu CDs and then everything else.

And as Keith said, this is coming from an English teacher, so maybe I should have higher standards. All I can say in my defense is that I mostly teach pretty lower level ESL, so I NEVER talk about metaphors or things like that. Usually it's more like explaining the difference between "they" and "them" or correcting sentences like "The streets in Saigon is more big than in San Francisco."

But I can agree with Keith and Arlene that her band is really kick ass. The new songs the I've heard live sound better live than on the record.

Anyway, I may end up seeing her again in November. We'll see. And I forgot to add that the protest songs are covers and not her own songs.

Kevin
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Postby notalone » Tue Oct 21, 2008 7:20 pm

Kevin,
I've been listening to Lu since "Town South of Bakersfield" and my favorites are also Sweet Old World (1) and Lucinda Williams(2) followed by Car Wheels..
For most (if not all) the music I listen to, the complete sound of the song is more important than the lyrics. Sometimes I don't really even hear the lyrics until the song is real familar.
So in Patty's case, although I love Living with Ghosts (including the fantastic lyrics) I enjoy the produced sound of Flaming Red and Silver Bell more.
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Postby keith from ny » Wed Oct 22, 2008 7:38 am

Kevin, many thanks for your thoughtful response! We actually agree on a number of points (like the quality of Lucinda's covers and the great songwriting on Lucinda Williams and Sweet Old World), but when I can find the time I'll write a long and detailed post endeavoring to convince you that in the case of Essence you're confusing "simple" with "simplistic." In the meantime, I would urge you to consider line by line what Lucinda is actually doing in the deceptively plain lyrics of Jackson to provide such a powerful vehicle for her voice.
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Postby marybeth » Wed Oct 22, 2008 7:43 am

ooh, I'm looking forward to this. :)
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Postby Hugues » Wed Oct 22, 2008 10:42 am

Well, sfboy/Kevin wrote my thoughts. Though I really loved Car Wheels, my little favorite remains the eponymous album from 1988 (Car Wheels usually gets the praise, whereas this one is often kinda forgotten). But really, I'm a fan of Lu in the same way as Kevin, I mean: I never cared much for the lyrics or the quality of Lu's songwriting in the first place: it's all about her voice, the feeling in it, her melodies, etc...

I can see what can sound embarrassing for those who care about lyrics, and I can also understand how we can dislike the last few albums. Personally, I don't like the live album, and I don't like everything from World Without Tears, but on the other hand I really liked West.

I have received the new album and will listen to it soon.
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Postby Turk » Wed Oct 22, 2008 12:46 pm

Really great conversation going on here.
I agree with ALL of you on most points. Lucinda Williams and Sweet Old World are my favorite Lu albums. Car Wheels is great but with a few skippers. Essence saw improvements in the blending of Lu's lyrics and music. I guess that's natural with influence from having different musicians perform with you. The song Essence and Are You Down are the proof of that combination. I Envy the Wind and Blue are just plain classic Lucinda. Very, very simple lyrics interpreted the way only Lucinda could do.

World Without Tears has some nuggets but also some throwaways. Not crazy about her take on rap. West hardly gets any play from me at all, but that's not to say that I don't appreciate a couple of efforts from it. I like the new album for what it is I guess because I wasn't expecting anything earth-shattering this time around. I think some of the reasoning for Lu's lyrics to sound so simplistic this time is because the music that normally gels with the lyrics and her voice just don't deliver. Yes, the band and the production are great but there's too much repetiveness going on. I liked Honey Bee right off the bat and it probably is a crowd pleaser when done live. After listening to it a few times, I'm quite over it. I thought Jailhouse Tears was a cute song when I heard it live but the album version is terrible.

If I were compiling a Lucinda greatest hits CD, nothing from Little Honey would make it.
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Postby sfboy » Wed Oct 22, 2008 1:58 pm

OK, I guess I've gotten myself in up to my chest, so I might as well go all the way in. Deep end, here I am.

This is very tangential, but slightly related. Do any of you LOVE CDs, all the way through, song for song, very often? I can count very very few CDs that I love all the way through. Even my favorite albums have a song or two that I don't like. OK, get in groups and discuss :)

So, that said, I really like all of Lu's CDs, but remember that maybe I have lowish standards! :) I don't expect to like every song. Car Wheels has some really good songs, but for me few of them make me really feel. I love many of the songs on Essence. World Without Tears is my least favorite CD, and I agree that her rapish songs do absolutely nothing for me. But, for example, Those Three Days and Sweet Side are two of my favorite Lu songs (even though SS does have some rapesque parts). Half of West I never listen to, but then Everything Has Changed just floors me every time I hear it.

And as far as live CDs go, the Fillmore live CD is OK but nothing great. However, the live CDs she released on her website are just fantastic. In case you haven't heard, the CDs are live shows where she did each CD from start to finish. The ones of Lucinda Williams and Sweet Old World are just amazing. And it's interesting. My boyfriend, who is Brazilian and sees/hears music from a totally different perspective, can't listen to the studio CDs of those CDs but he adores the live CDs of those CDs. He says that her voice is much much better (meaning, I think, more emotive and expressive) now. And I think he doesn't like the production of the early CDs.

OK, I'm waiting for the simple/simplistic distinction, Keith. What I REALLY think is that we all need to go to a Lu show together!!!

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Postby Arlene » Wed Oct 22, 2008 2:24 pm

I interrupt this fascinating discussion just to say that tomorrow, 10/23, by tuning in to http://www.lucindawilliams.com at 8:00 pm EST (and 5:00 pm PST) you can hear a LIVE webcast of Lucinda performing in concert in Minnesota. Now...

back to our regularly scheduled discussion. :D :wink: 8)
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Postby marybeth » Thu Oct 23, 2008 2:24 am

I think I'll have to go back and play all my Lucinda CDs to be able to participate in this erudite discussion! More, hopefully, later!
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Postby keith from ny » Thu Oct 23, 2008 4:56 am

marybeth wrote:I think I'll have to go back and play all my Lucinda CDs to be able to participate in this erudite discussion! More, hopefully, later!

And don't forget to listen to this great compilation of stuff that's not on her albums too! ;)
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Postby keith from ny » Thu Oct 23, 2008 6:37 am

The Fillmore live CDs were a big disappointment to me. I didn't mind so much that they were loaded in favor of material from World Without Tears, but those songs sounded so much more vital in concert when they were relatively new. By the time of the Fillmore dates, Lu had been singing them for 3+ years and it really showed in her performance. Plus she wasn't in particularly good voice for those dates.

I only have the Lucinda Williams CD out of her live album series, since Arlene and I were at the NYC performance (which included guest appearances by David Byrne and David Johansson during the unreleased second set), and that really was a great show which included many wonderful songs she rarely performs any more.
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Postby marybeth » Fri Oct 24, 2008 1:15 am

keith from ny wrote:
marybeth wrote:I think I'll have to go back and play all my Lucinda CDs to be able to participate in this erudite discussion! More, hopefully, later!

And don't forget to listen to this great compilation of stuff that's not on her albums too! ;)


*desperately looking for this one* :oops:
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Postby Ian » Fri Oct 24, 2008 7:37 am

Whilst I don't feel qualified to enter erudite discussions....

I uploaded this a few month back, maybe it's of interest.

<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/P-Fhf6nlQHI&hl=en&fs=1"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/P-Fhf6nlQHI&hl=en&fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

Lucinda Williams - Out of touch
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Postby ScottG » Mon Oct 27, 2008 9:47 pm

Great sound on that video Ian.

But, the Alice Cooper look doesn't do much for Lu.
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Postby marybeth » Tue Oct 28, 2008 2:25 am

I've been listening to the album streamed on Lost Highway's site, and I have to say, nothing really grabs me. I don't find the songs very memorable.
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