The CD wait continues, but Williams shines in show
The Birchmere, Alexandria, Va., Sept. 11, 1997
By Paula K. Williams
ALEXANDRIA, VA - "Let's dispel the myth right now," Lucinda Williams said to her audience at the new, larger Birchmere. That myth being that the delayed release of her upcoming album, three years in the making and who knows how long to go until release, is due toWilliams's perfectionism, re-recording several times with different producers and players.
While Williams is indeed a perfectionist - the Birchmere audience witnessed this as Williams began the new "Metal Firecracker" twice before getting it right - she explains, "We're beyond that now. It's out of my hands." She jokingly suggested giving out Rick Rubin's telephone number (Rubin heads Williams's label, American Recordings) to disappointed fans.
Obviously Williams is as tired of explaining as fans are of waiting. In fact, this tour is a cure for restlessness - she made sure to thank her bandmates, guitarists Duane Jarvis and Kenny Vaughan and bassist Richard Price, for helping her and "keeping (her) from going crazy sitting around Nashville."
It's going to be worth the wait, if this show is any indication.
The Birchmere audience heard both songs from the elusive album, "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road," and old favorites, such as"Big Red Sun Blues" and the obligatory "Passionate Kisses."
Following this was "Drunken Angel," a tribute to the late Texas songwriter Blaze Foley. Standouts from "Car Wheels" were the title track, with its images of Southern life, and "Joy," reminiscent of "Change the Locks" in its simple yet passionate structure and theme - the most repeated phrase in the song is "You took my joy, I want it back."
Other contenders will be "Lake Charles," (albeit another tribute to a departed friend) and "Too Cool to Be Forgotten," inspired by photography books.
Vaughan had already impressed the audience while accompanying Williams's opener, R.B. Morris, with his accomplished, yet not overpowering, technique. Morris is one part honky-tonk, one part blues, several parts poet, and very proud of his hometown, Knoxville, Tenn.
Morris was more at ease on stage, offering amusing stories. He observed that Don Gibson had written his two biggest hits in Knoxville before playing "Roy," a wino who "used to know Donny Gibson before he was a star." Other highlights of Morris's set included his Celtic-influenced "Ridin' With O'Hanlan" and a very spirited cover of the late Robert Mitchum's "Ballad of Thunder Road."
A great night was had by all. Now, Mr. Rubin, about that album...