With a storied career spanning over four decades, soulful songstress Lucinda Williams has become a veritable icon of Americana. Born in Louisiana in 1953, her music is marked by its masterful storytelling, emotionally charged lyrics and signature blend of folk, rock and country.
Williams started releasing songs in the late 70s and made her breakthrough with her third, self-titled album in 1988, which included fan favorite tracks like “Passionate Kisses” and “Changed the Locks.” A decade later, she shot to stardom with the Grammy-winning “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road,” celebrated for its emotive resonance and authentic portrayal of Southern life. Williams digs into her traumatic upbringing in the Deep South with the same raw intimacy in her 2023 memoir Don’t Tell Anybody the Secrets I Told You.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that Williams’ literary influences permeate with honesty, emotional fragility, and gritty portraits of everyday life. Sharing some of her favorite books with The New York Post, she recommended classics by Flannery O’Connor and Charles Bukowski alongside a Dusty Springfield biography and a collection from her acclaimed poet father, Miller. Dive into her reading list below, and check out the bookshelves of other legendary musicians here.
Lucinda Williams’ Reading List
“I first read this when I was 16, and ended up reading everything O’Connor wrote — I completely related to her scenes of Southern life. Here, preacher Hazel Motes struggles with his doubts regarding salvation after he comes back from WWII, an avowed atheist. It’s very dark, but there’s a lot of bright humor in it, too.” -LW
Some Jazz a While by Miller Williams
“This is a collection of some of my dad’s best poems. Like O’Connor’s characters, he also struggled with faith: His father was a Methodist minister and he was an agnostic. He wrote about day-to-day things, observations on a wreck on the highway or a cat asleep on a windowsill. I think I learned that from him. He once told me, ‘Don’t ever censor yourself.'” -LW
Dancing With Demons: The Authorized Biography of Dusty Springfield by Penny Valentine
“I fell in love with her music after ‘Dusty in Memphis.’ She was a middle-class British white girl singing Black music, and she struggled with her sexual identity and cut herself on purpose. I put her in Etta James and Aretha Franklin’s league and was surprised to read about how fragile she was.” -LW
Women by Charles Bukowski
“It’s like reading someone’s diary: It’s funny, somewhat pornographic and honest. He talks about giving a poetry reading and going to the professor’s house afterward, seeing a beautiful woman and telling her she has beautiful legs. Next thing, they’re in the guest bedroom getting it on. When I read it, I thought, OMG. That was at my dad’s house!” -LW
(via The NY Post; photo by Danny Clinch)
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