Songwriter: Lucinda Williams

Wasting few words and sparing no pain, she has composed an extraordinary songbook about the rituals of loving, losing and keeping the faith

Lucinda Williams is a righteous singer. The sound of her voice is so overwhelming and so moving that she could sing the phone book and probably give it meaning. But she comes up with extraordinary words for that voice to sing--deceptively simple words like back steps or hairdo. How do you use the word hairdo in a song and make it so poignant that it almost breaks your heart?

As a person, Lucinda, who's now 48, doesn't censor herself. She's without guile, and she suffers from that sometimes because people don't know what to make of someone so forthright. They feel...

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