Home > Uncategorized > Music Review: “Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone” by Lucinda Williams – posted 11/28/2014

Music Review: “Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone” by Lucinda Williams – posted 11/28/2014

I probably should lead off by making it clear that I am a huge Lucinda Williams fan. I do not own every album but I do own “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road”, “West”, “Blessed” and her double album that was originally released in 1988 that was titled “Lucinda Williams”.

When I saw she had released a new double album, I did not hesitate. “Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone” is another fine album. Lucinda wrote almost all the songs.

I will not say I love every song but there are enough great ones. Disc one is especially strong. Lucinda is a poet of the dark side. I think she writes and sings eloquently about dysfunctionality, broken relationships, and people who screw up. She clearly has had her share of down moments yet nothing has defeated her. Her lyrics are passionate, politically informed and humane.

How many country rock stars (if that is what she is) would have a song titled “Compassion” that was based on a poem their dad wrote? I do not think too many.

I love “Stand Right By Each Other”, a statement song about the need to fight to keep a relationship together in the face of big difficulties. Really the advice is good and the song totally rocks. There is an adult quality about the weightiness of relationships and how much is at stake in breaking up. There is wisdom there coming from lived experience.

I also wanted to give special mention to a number of the other songs on Disc One. I especially like “Foolishness”. Lucinda has no use for fear mongers, people promoting pie-in-the-sky or liars. She dishes on them and I do see the song as an expression of her politics. Her song “Protection” is similar in that the lyrics engage the same fight. The cool thing is the liveliness of the music. The songs move. There is nothing boring or wasted.

“Burning Bridges” is a song about self-destructive behavior. It asks why the self-destructive person is doing the bad behavior and why he keeps doing it. Why does he want to burn bridges when it is so clearly not the way to go and he is only hurting himself. The question is pertinent and common. Like the other songs I mentioned, Lucinda gives the song great energy and drive. The genius in the music is her ability to be topical, accessible, and so lively.

I did not think Disc Two was quite as good as Disc One although there are some great songs on Disc Two. My personal favorite is “Walk On”, a very catchy number. It is not so much the lyrics as the music. I have listened to it a lot. The song will grab you. I also like “When I Look At the World”. It captures the duality of life with awful sadness co-existing with life in all its glory. The song is reminiscent of W.H. Auden’s famous poem Musee des Beaux Arts. That poem took off on Brueghel”s Icarus painting where people apathetically go on with their lives, ignoring the suffering around them. “When I Look at the World” contrasts the extremes in life.

Lucinda writes:

“…I’ve been filled with regret
I’ve made a mess of things, I’ve been a total wreck
I’ve been disrespected and had my patience tried

But then I look at the world and all its glory
I look at the world and it’s a different story
Each time I look at the world.”

Patty Loveless has said of Lucinda: “She writes from the heart of real life. You can hear lives being played out in her lyrics, and the stories capture the way it really is.” Those words are true.

I will take the liberty of ending with some lyrics Lucinda wrote from a different album. I just like it. The song is “Something About What Happens When We Talk”.

“If I had my way I’d be in your town
I might not stay but at least I would’ve been around
‘Cause there’s something about what happens
when we talk

Does it make sense, does it matter anyway
Is it coincidence or was it meant to be

‘Cause there’s something about what happens
when we talk

Conversation with you was like a drug
It wasn’t your face so much as it was your words

‘Cause there’s something about what happens
when we talk
Something about what happens when we talk

I can’t stick around, I’m going back South
But all I regret now is I never kissed your mouth

“Cause there’s something about what happens
when we talk
Something about what happens when we talk

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