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Alt-country singer, songwriter, and musical maven Lucinda Williams comes from a long line of wordsmiths. Her grandfather was a Methodist minister and her father, poet Miller Williams, read at Bill Clinton's inauguration. She still turns to Daddy for songwriting advice.
Before her upcoming South Florida show at the Parker Playhouse, we asked Williams about working with Elvis Costello on her newest album, Blessed, and the difficulties of finding love as a successful, creative woman.
New Times: You collaborated with a bunch of musical masterminds on this new album. How was your experience working with Elvis Costello and Matthew Sweet?
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Lucinda Williams: Well, I just adore both of them. He happened to be in town finishing up his album with Steven Burnett [while] we were still in the studio doing Blessed. And Tom [Overby] — my husband and manager, [who's] always coming up with inventive ideas — suggested, "Why don't we have Elvis come in and put some guitar on some of these songs?" He was just amazing. I was completely blown away.
Matthew Sweet has just amazing instincts. You don't have to tell him anything. I said, and you can quote me on this, "Matthew Sweet is the Brian Wilson of his generation." He's an amazing, amazing musician.
In your music, you speak so openly about the effect of your romantic relationship with your husband. It's brave. Women are often afraid to do that.
I've always been a diehard romantic. I wanted a relationship like Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, that kind of thing where you inspire each other. Those don't come along very often. I had to wait till I was older for some reason. I didn't find the right person till I was in my 50s. We did that for each other.
Most men, not [my husband Tom], can feel threatened by successful women. It's hard to feel creative and inspired when you're dealing with that.
In other words, Tom lets me be me. If you can be yourself, then that's where your creativity is going to stem from. And you've gotta branch out and write about other things besides unrequited love. You kind of have to get out of yourself.
Tom is my best critic, which is good, because you don't want to have anyone kissing your ass. You need someone to kind of kick your ass from time to time, so that's another thing to look for.