Lu – El Rey Theatre, 9/5/07 – World Without Tears

Han & I went up to LA last night to see Lucinda Williams perform her album “World Without Tears” cover to cover. She’ll be performing all of her albums over the next few nights in LA and then will do it again in New York next month.

The El Rey Theatre is small and intimate, standing room only, no seating. Lu & her band performed the songs from WWT with heart and passion and made me hear them anew. She wore a long blue dress with a short leather jacket. She spoke quite a bit between songs and really made it seem like we were her closest friends. The best performers can do this, so even if you know that she’s telling the same stories every night she plays, it’s still charming and gives you that feeling like she’s letting you in on a secret, confiding in you about her life, her songs.

The path that led me to Lu & her music is long and varied. I heard a husband/wife duo cover one of her songs at an open mic, I fell in love with a duet she did with Steve Earle on his “Hard Core Troubadour” album, her appearance on the “Sweet Relief” compilation is one of the album’s highlights, drinking coffee alone in a Sioux Falls cafe with “Car Wheels…” playing in the background finally made me seek her out.

Over time, I’ve come to be in circles where people I know also know her very well and I have actually met her once. But, like many people I admire, I want to remain somewhat ignorant of them in “real” life. Many years ago, I attended a poetry reading of a woman who’s writing I adored and felt very connected to. Her reading was okay, not great. And when I waited in line to have her sign one of her books for me, I found her to be extremely mean-spirited and I was completely turned off. I don’t think I read any of her work after that. I don’t want that to happen with Lu, or any other artist I greatly respect, admire etc. (For this same reason, I passed on going to hear Michael Ondaatje do a reading).

I’ve seen Lu in concert quite often. Sometimes she’s spectacular, other times she’s so-so, but every time, she’s committed to it. And her words. Her words.

-from West

He can’t rescue you
can’t pull the demons from your head
can’t lull you from your sleepy bed
He can’t rescue you

He can’t protect you
from the powers that will be
the hours of insanity
He can’t protect you

He can’t change you
change the summers of your beauty
the thunderstorms within your purity
He can’t change you

He can’t carry you
past the door of every danger
every foe and every stranger
He can’t carry you

He can’t save you
from the plain and simple truth
the waning winters of your youth
He can’t save you

He can’t fix you
your tears will always leave their mark
from fears that stay inside the dark
He can’t fix you

What can he do
but tie some ribbons in your hair
and show you that he’ll always care
that’s all he can do

The thunderstorms within your purity. That is just gorgeous.

Last night’s second set was a mix of new and older songs like the one above, “Pineola,” “Joy,” “Still I Long for Your Kiss” with special guest Shelby Lynne and “Get Right with God” with special guest Nancy Wilson. Lu changed from her dress into jeans and a black t-shirt that said PUNK in big white letters across the chest. [I need some cool t-shirts like this. Where do I find them?] The second set was not as riveting as the first, but by then I’d had a few vodka/cranberry drinks and was letting it all wash over me.

One of the cool things they’re doing with these shows is recording the first set of the album songs and then selling it at the end of the night. I purchased one and have yet to re-live the evening, but will play it soon. I’m looking forward to feeling it all over again.

There were some disturbances in the force yesterday that made for a hard day for Han. I can’t say that I was much help, though I thought I was at the time. I need to hone my Jedi skills.


I still owe you some more summer memories, but I will probably get to a few of those over the weekend, hopefully with photos. Until then, some more Lucinda words, something I wish I’d written and at the same time, feel connected to almost like I did because she captured how I feel so often.

-from West

I would rather suffer in sweet silent solitude
Deathly defiant from drowning out
Filthy sounds stumbling ugly and crude
Between the lips of your beautiful mouth

Deep down within me words move in phrases
Frozen and still ‘til they decide
To melt and drip over the pages
Until that moment they live inside

My words enjoy the feel of the paper
Better than mingling with your consonants
Once they get going they never waver
And they slip in between your if, ands, and buts

When my words are hiding between the lines
Then I’m afraid they won’t hear me call
What if they fail me without a sign
What if they hardly surface at all

Screaming and throwing your weight around
My words choose knowledge over politics
You can’t kill my words, they know no bounds
My words are strong and they don’t make me sick

They still remain my only companion
Loyal and true to the very end
They’ll never ever completely abandon
Ever give up the paper and the pen


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