Lucinda Williams on Her Life, Her Lyrics, and Everything In Between

Well, there’s a tribe of people who live here; we like each other and hang together. I’ve had this same conversation with people here who are progressive and they all say, “We feel we live somewhere where we can join the fight and it’s going to make a difference.”

How did you feel when Roe v. Wade was overturned?

It was a shock—complete and utter dismay. It’s hard to wrap my head around it; like did that actually happen? It seems so unreal.

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Your husband manages you and you’ve collaborated with him a bit on songwriting. How is it living, working, and touring with him?

It’s hard. At first it felt like it was stabilizing my life, but working on the book with Tom and living with him has been incredibly stressful. Women say [they have] hormonal things, but I think men have that too.

You’re singing, but still unable to play guitar onstage. How do you feel touring and performing? 

It’s exhausting. I enjoy the shows but the travel really tires me out. 

You toured with Tom Petty and did a Hollywood Bowl concert with him the weekend before he died (in 2017)? 

Yes, I had toured with him [previously] and we did the Hollywood Bowl together; we were just beginning to form a great friendship. Then he died. His death really affected me.

Did you go through your own bad period of drugs or drinking?

The drinking, yes. Some drugs, psychedelics mostly. The drinking didn’t come in until my 20s, 30s. As for drugs, I’ve never really got into the hard stuff. I’m a wine drinker, but I’d go into the bars on tour and the wines were horrific. So a friend told me to have vodka tonics instead. 

You’ve credited Bob Dylan and Neil Young as musical influences; are there any female musicians who inspired you?

I loved Bobbie Gentry—she was the first female voice I heard whose voice was low and husky. Most of the female voices I heard were high, pretty voices—Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez. They had these amazing ranges and I could never sing like that; it was frustrating. I also listened to Memphis Minnie, Dinah Washington, and I loved Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette.

What’s the new album like?

I’ve got some great guest artists singing background vocals on it: Bruce Springsteen, Margo Price, Angel Olsen. I started cowriting with (New York City–based singer-songwriter) Jesse Malin—and one of my favorite songs on it is called “New York Comeback.” We recorded some stuff at the historic RCA studios in Nashville where legends like Tammy [Wynette] and Dolly [Parton] recorded. 

Can you believe it’s the 44th anniversary of your first album?

No, the thing with time just blows my mind. 

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