In his personal essay "The Crack Up" F. Scott Fitzgerald writes about events in life so significant that a person is never quite the same again afterward. So life altering are these events that one comes to the realization that you will never be as good a person ever again; now forever flawed just like a useless cracked vase.
Fitzgerald writes that these life altering moments aren't necessarily the big moments like the death or loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, or the easily identified tragedies that elicit sympathy from friends and loved ones. Nope there are moments in life that quietly come and go that forever change the person you are, and not for the better.
As I was sitting mesmerized by Lucinda Williams' sterling performance at O'Shaughnessy Auditorium Saturday night it occurred to me that my life has slowly undergone a completely stealth-like transformation since 1999 the year I first really fell in love with Lucinda's music. There have been the big obvious changes- the death of my Mom; the death of my little buddy cat Max; the loss and change of jobs; the inability to fall out of and into love again; physical ailments like a bout of Bells Palsy and worsening chronic insomnia; the end of my all time favorite TV show- Buffy the Vampire Slayer; a dwindling circle of friends; etc.
There have also been a variety of new additions to my life that would have been previously unimaginable just a few years before: I've become a scooterhead; I've joined the small but loyal legion of curlers; I've added three never boring cats to my house; I've changed jobs and I've upgraded my house. I've traveled overseas for the second time in my life and I've discovered the joys of a bobblehead collection.
There's little about me that is the same as it was just six years ago. And thankfully through all these changes I've been accompanied by a life comforting soundtrack that has included just about each and every Lucinda Williams' song.
Williams is of course the queen of the sad song. Her concert in the heart of the St. Kate's college campus in the cold air of a March night in the capital city of Minnesota was perhaps my favorite Lucinda Williams concert ever. Accompanied only by her own acoustic guitar and the electric guitar of a superlative musician, Doug Pettibone, Williams played a two hour set that was intimate, inspired , creative and ultimately uplifting.
She set the tone with the opener, a introspectively low key version of "Greenville" that poked me right between the eyes like the feeling I get whenever reading F.Scott's Fitzgerald's most personal prose. When Lucinda got to the lyrics, "Looking for someone to save you/Looking for someone to rave about you..." it finally dawned on me the toll of the changes these last half dozen years have had on me including losing the best day to day friend I've never had.
As Lucinda did the best ever version of "Blue" I've ever heard and a wistful run through of "Fruits of My Labor" (my current favorite Lucinda song about taking the glory over the fame) my mind flashed back to the days after 9/11/2001 when I stumbled upon the phone number of my estranged soul mate and given the solemnity of the nation's mood at the time I mustered up the courage to call her not knowing if I'd ever get the chance ever again.
We hadn't spoken to each other in nearly a dozen years (though it isn't an exaggeration to say that there hasn't been a day since the end that she hasn't been someplace in my heart and soul). Maybe it was just the mood of the moment but I needed to express how sad I felt that our friendship ended but also how much she had continued to mean to me ("There's some people that you can't forget/Even though you only seen them one time or two...") constantly a daily painful inspiration for me. Who can possibly forget the comfort of finding somebody who brings out the best in you whenever you're around her, and makes you smile because she is not only funny but inspires your own sense of humor during a time when nothing, nothing at all, seems funny to you for the first time of your life?
And so when Lucinda did this shuffling version of "Overtime" my own ailing and forever failing heart pounded in perfect time with another's for the first time in a long long time. "I guess out of the blue you won't cross my mind/I'll get over you/Over time..." Pettibone's charged accompaniment embellished the electricity I was squirming with in a subtle but oh so effective manner.
Lucinda mixed in four new songs from a hopefully soon completed CD with the rest of the night's more familiar songs Along with the six new songs she did at her Minnesota Zoo concert last summer I've now had the pleasure to hear eight still to be recorded unreleased Lucinda Williams' songs. I can't wait for the new CD. The new songs are an eclectic mix from a skilled songwriter with a lot to say. This is someone so adept in making this place make just a little bit more sense during the ticking time when we may be facing our midnight hour.