A Minute With: Lucinda Williams tackles aging, death

Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:01pm EDT
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By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Age is more than a number to Lucinda Williams. It's also a song lyric.

The singer/songwriter confronts the sensitive subject in one of the first songs on her new album "Blessed."

In a lament to her late manager, she reveals her shock at hearing of his death. "I'm 57 but I could be seven years old," she sings in "Copenhagen."

Not many entertainers of a certain age, especially female rockers in an industry powered by fresh-faced sensations such as 17 year-old Justin Bieber, are so willing to acknowledge the passage of time.

But middle age is also a badge of honor, a sign of survival, especially when her sprightly peers include Steve Earle, Dave Alvin and Chrissie Hynde.

Others went before their time, though, including wheelchair-bound singer/songwriter Vic Chesnutt, who committed suicide in 2009, aged 45. Williams, now 58, pays tribute to him in the song "Seeing Black."

Q. "Seeing Black" is one of a handful of melodically up-tempo songs, yet the subject is obviously dark. It seems you're more inquisitive about the subject. You're not condemning him, are you?

A. "No, not really. I've always tried to stay away from that -- whenever I'm writing, whoever the subject is in the song -- and try to be empathetic, even though I might be a little angry or whatever the word is. I'm still trying to be empathetic."   Continued...

<p>Musician and songwriter Lucinda Williams performs at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana, April 27, 2007. REUTERS/Lee Celano</p>