Wednesday, June 15, 2011


If you like good music and you have never heard "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road" by Lucinda Williams, then I'm thinking you need to get this album like yesterday. It's probably about ten years old, but man, it's timeless. And I didn't even know about Lucinda when it came out. I had to play catch up.

A few friends and I went to Memphis in May, probably 2002? Looking at the early evening schedule, we saw that The Counting Crows were playing in a little while and some lady who had this country hick sounding name was on before them. Someone had the wonderful idea to show up for the country hick's show and get close to the stage ahead of the crowd that was sure to form for The Counting Crows.

So we show up. And here's this fair little lady in all black - jeans, shirt, and cowboy hat - with a J-45 slung low, and a voice that was anything but fair or little. In fact, car wheels on a gravel road is the perfect way to describe Lucinda Williams' voice. The sound is kinda crunchy, not "pretty," and oddly satisfying. I fell in love immediately with the depth and simplicity of her music.

She sang "Joy" as her last number. Click the link if you've never heard it; it's four minutes of gloriousness that you should most definitely experience. The whole song is basically just one chord, kind of a country stomp dirge sort of thing. "I don't want you anymore 'cause you took my joy...I'm gonna go to Slidell and look for my joy..." over and over.

And I remember there was a ~40 year old lady near us at the concert. She had long black hair, and a long flowing skirt, and she had taken her shoes off. When the song started, it was apparent that this was what she had been waiting to hear. She cheered enthusiastically, then started swaying and stepping back and forth. After a few moments, her eyes were closed and her head bowed so that her hair fell forward and moved with the music and the wind. And by the last verse she was spinning 'round and 'round, arms outstretched, eyes still closed.

"You took my joy, I want it back
You took my joy, I want it back
You took my joy, I want it back!"

Everyone around her knew that she was getting her joy back. She was taking it back. And we tried to avert our eyes, as you would from any holy thing.