Williams and Austin Chronicle senior editor Margaret Moser have known each other a long time. They go back to 1980, Williams' second go-round living in Austin. Those were easy times, with lots of musicians, artists, filmmakers, and writers hanging out together, spending more time looking for the next good party than trying to earn another dollar. Living in Austin was cheap enough then that money rarely got in the way of a good time. Life ran the gamut of small apartment living rooms filled with too many people drinking, smoking, and talking, to car rides dominated by the rich, addled verbal wit that was our conversational style -- half riffing on the language and the other half the constant stories of music and personal history to hearing music in every kind of joint.
After the hoopla accompanying the recent release of Car Wheels died down, we went to Margaret: Now is the time for you to do your Lucinda piece. We didn't want another story of why the new album did or didn't come out six years after the last one; we wanted the story of Lucinda Williams. Not the artist and songwriter who put out a new album but the witty, brilliant, sometimes crazy, longtime running buddy who just released a new batch of songs. We wanted Lucinda the woman, walking through her house, driving her car, listening to music, making music, doing something, doing nothing, and sometimes during all this, talking to an old friend.
Most of you never heard of Clyde Woodward. Back when we first all met, it was "Lucinda and Clyde" that you first heard about, and "Lucinda and Clyde" to whom you were finally introduced. Moser really captures him, an untamed force of nature who spoke in the language of poets about penny-ante schemes and longtime dreams. Clyde would call you in the middle of an afternoon to ask you if you wanted to go to a party and then ask if you could pick him up as long as you were going. And could you lend him $3 so we could bring a six-pack, it was the least we could do. Soon, you'd be sipping drinks in a kitchen with a native Cajun over a pot with the roux cooking in the bottom, the all-day and night drinking, cooking, and eating session just beginning. Always with some kind of grinning and picking, after everyone got to feeling fine.
At least at the time I thought he was Cajun -- see "Lake Charles" on Car Wheels -- who knew? These two pieces aren't really about Lucinda Williams' new CD, but they are very much about the life and times of the woman who made that recording and the everyday common world that is the source of her amazing music.