“Everybody always asks me what the theme is,” Lucinda Williams says, her drowsy Southern drawl punctuating her frustration at having this question put to her for what must be the umpteenth time. "I just go in and write the songs. And, I guess, whatever I’ve been dealing with at that time, that’s what’s going to come out."
While she's at it the three-time GRAMMY® winner and wife — in 2009 Williams married Tom Overby, her longtime manager — also squashes the seemingly popular notion that she must be in a miserable state in order to write a decent song. "I mean, it’s a good idea to have experienced different things in life," she maintains, suggesting that she's contended with enough pain and sadness should she need to glean such inspiration in the future. If there was ever any doubt, however, she's surmounted it with her tenth and latest studio album, Blessed.
It's her finest work in at least a decade and, what's more, its songs are the product of a very happy woman.
Your songwriting, particularly the lyrics and their imagery, could be described as raw, unvarnished, even feral.
Wow, feral... I love that word. I never heard anybody describe it like that.
Is that just how you perceive things? Or, when you’re writing lyrics, do you have to scrape away at an idea before you get down to the core of what you’re singing about?
It’s probably just more what comes out.
Something like, “We don’t talk about Heaven / We don’t talk about Hell / We come to depend on each other so damn well”...
Well, that song, “Blue,” that song took a long time. I started that song years ago and finally finished it when I was writing the songs for Essence. That’s an older, older song that I had ideas for and just couldn’t seem to put it all together. So that song did take longer to write. Some of them are like that. And some of these [new] songs, like “Soldier’s Song,” I had the idea for quite a while back, a few years ago. The main thing for me is coming up with the idea for the song. Then I’ll sit down with it and work on it and everything. But I might just have a few lines. And some of them I’ll kind of chip away at here and there. It just depends on… I don’t know. They’re just not ready yet to be born.