I was never big on country music growing up… well aside from Johnny Cash because he is definitely a Krombholz family favorite. My dad, on the other hand, loves old country music and has been a fan of Lucinda Williams for a long time. I’m sure I’d heard her at some point or another growing up but I remember the first time I actually heard her. I was rewatching my favorite tv show, Alias, and the character Michael Vaughn goes into a dingy bar where “Righteously” is playing (Season 2, Episode 17 if you need to check it out). I remember thinking, “I need to hear more of this musician.” I found out it was a Lucinda Williams song and became intrigued.
Around this same time, my parents and I went on a spring break trip to Austin, TX. I was 20 and very happy to drink Lonestar beer at the Austin Motel. We stopped by Waterloo Records at some point during our trip and picked up Lucinda Williams’ album, Blessed (which had just been released earlier that month) and Hayes Carll’s album, Kmag Yoyo. Suddenly, in the vivacious city of Austin, TX, I was a country music fan. Especially, after hearing the screeching guitar intro of “Buttercup” by Lucinda Williams and realizing she’s more rock n’ roll than I’ll ever be.
But where do you begin with her extremely expansive songwriting career? For me, it started with Blessed and rolled into A World Without Tears, finally leading to Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (just to name the three I started with). When you look up Lucinda Williams online, Wikipedia describes her as “an American rock, folk, blues and country music singer, songwriter and musician.” There is no way you can listen to an entire album through and not hear a range of music every single time. It was the more rockin’ songs that pulled me into her music and the dedication of a true fan that lead me to appreciate her ballads.
There’s a deep rooted reason I became attached to Lucinda. I found out she’s from Lake Charles, Louisiana where my grandmother grew up and some of my relatives still live. When my grandmother passed unexpectedly in 2015, Lucinda’s song, “Lake Charles” became something I listened to multiple times a day. I am also secretly holding on to the hope that somehow we’re distantly related (it’s a very small town).
I’ve seen Lucinda three times now and every show has been different. But, she is consistently a lowkey cool. Every time I see her, I’m reminded how I love every single song, even ones that aren’t my go-to’s. And her strength as a songwriter is displayed with how it can transfer to different genres. My old rock/slightly punk band used to do a cover of “Seeing Black” which worked great in the setting of an edgier styled band. I also saw Waxahatchee do a cover of “I Lost It” and they killed it.
As a woman, Lucinda Williams’ songs are also profoundly relatable. You go through lust (“Righteously,” “Honey Bee”), love (“Right in Time”) and heartbreak (“Those Three Days”, “Can’t Let Go”) along with her in ways that we’ve all felt and she expresses perfectly.
Today, I’m an alt country junkie (as you can probably see with the articles I’ve done for WIR in the last few years). It’s all thanks to Lucinda. I could go on and on about her and all of the songs that I absolutely love but then I would be dissecting her entire discography. But I do have to give a shout out to her backing vocals on my favorite country dude, Ray Wylie Hubbard’s song “Tell the Devil I’m Gettin’ There As Fast As I Can.” At 66, Lucinda is showing zero signs of a change in pace. She is out on tour all the time and hopefully will come to a city near you (it’s someone you NEED to see as a Women in Rock fan).