|PHOTO BY JASON GONULSEN|
On Wednesday (April 26), Lucinda Williams returns to The Pageant, where she has performed countless times over the last 16 years. So many that I’ve lost count. But I can tell you this: I’ve seen her over eight times, and I’ve always, ALWAYS had a good time. And I’ve never left early. Lu is a treasure and should be in the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. (Honestly, it’s an embarrassment that she’s not.)
You can still buy tickets to the show here.
To preview the show, here are 10 Lucinda Williams songs, with brief stories attached to them.
Written by Jason Gonulsen.
I LOST IT
I just want to live the life I please
I don’t want no enemies
I don’t want nothing
If I have to fake it
This is the song from Car Wheels On a Gravel Road that immediately got my attention. I had purchased the album because I had read about it in No Depression, and Lu did not disappoint. “Everything’s paid for, nothing’s free.”
PLACE IN MY HEART
Even though you make me blue
I got room enough for you
No matter what you do
Unconditional love is a term I struggle with because, really, how often does it exist? I remember listening to this song on repeat earlier this year when my dog, Maggie, wasn’t doing so well. And then I remembered: Maggie showed me unconditional love. It exists.
SWEET OLD WORLD
Didn’t you think
Anyone loved you?
Loss is becoming something real and all-too common in my life, but honestly, it makes me want to do better, try harder, become a better person. It has humbled me beyond my imagination. Always remember: someone loves you; you are their world.
LITTLE ROCK STAR
To toss it away like that
Would be such a shame
I read a long time ago that this song is about Ryan Adams. Not sure if that’s true, but it makes sense because at the time, it seemed as if Adams was on a dark road. Ready to cash his chips, and go out like a firecracker. I was at a Lucinda show in Chicago back in 2001, and Ryan Adams opened. He told the crowd to go see another band when they were done, which I thought was strange, since he was opening for a songwriting legend. Later, during her set, Williams referred to Adams as a “genius,” and that she had “gotten her heart broken earlier that night.” Hey, little rock star…
You have disappeared
You have been released
I’m not really in the mood right now to write about my personal life, but I remember reading an interview where Lucinda said she wrote this song about the moment she was told her manager, Frank Callari, had passed. When someone leaves you, even if they don’t die, you remember where you were. If it was raining, snowing. You remember. And that’s why I love this song.
LEARNING HOW TO LIVE
I’ll make the most of what
You left me with
Sorry (not sorry) for picking a lot of the sad ones, but Lu does it so well. The way she sings “for you, I might have even changed my name…” is just perfect. People come in and out of your life, and I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had to rebuild once or twice.
THOSE THREE DAYS
Scorpions crawl across my screen
Make their home beneath my skin
Underneath my dress, stick their tongues
Bite through the flesh down to the bone
And I have been so fuckin’ alone
Is there a more honest song in her catalog? I say no. Listen to the anger, the way she reaches deep in her gut to deliver these words. I first heard this on a bootleg, so I’m sharing the live version here. “You managed to crawl inside my brain…”
Probably my favorite Lucinda Williams song. I know it’s probably my sister’s, too. In fact, my sister and I saw Lu perform this from the front row at The Pageant, back in 2001. I think there were three encores that night.
All I ask
Don’t tell anybody the secrets
I told you
When I first heard this, I thought it was way too simple to be written by Lucinda Williams. I got over that. I love the “we put on ZZ Top and turned them up real loud” carefree vibe. I mean, when else can Lucinda sing, “you said I rocked your world” and not have it sound entirely out of place?
I am waiting here for more
I am waiting by your door
This song makes me want to cash out all my savings, bet it on black, and see what happens. It’s about availability, opportunity, and addiction…and when they all collide. “I wanna feel your breath, even though you like to flirt with death.” One wrong turn. One right turn. One day at a time: your essence.