I thought to myself, pick another year. It’s too soon to have an opinion on 2014, and I’m so old I probably won’t have anything interesting to say by the end of the year.
Then I noticed that Metacritic has calculated the critical consensus on 2014 so far, and the best-reviewed album of 2014 is (drumroll):
I have an opinion about music in 1988. I’d like to be able to prove that I loved Lucinda Williams back then, when she was still mostly unknown, but due to the proprietary nature of my online world in those days, I can’t just dig up all of my pro-Lucinda rants from CompuServe forums at the time. Not that I was an early adopter … her self-titled album, now revered, was her third, and I hadn’t heard the first two. Hell, she even gives the lie to my Theory of the Trajectory of Rock Star Careers … she was 35 when Lucinda Williams was released (I can mark my own aging by watching her … she and I, and my wife, were all born in 1953).
We saw her several times in concert, mostly as a deserved headliner. But we also saw her open for Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and Willie Nelson, and she always belonged alongside those greats.
I thought she might find it odd that her 1988 album is at the top of the 2014 critics charts. But then I learned that its reissue was entirely her idea:
Hi y’all. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m happy to announce the re-issue of my self-titled album, Lucinda Williams, is finally here.
I can’t even begin to explain what this album means to me…. It was the first record where I truly found myself…. Or, at least, figured out what it is I do. And it has shaped me as an artist from that year forward.
For decades, people have wondered why they couldn’t buy this album in stores…. So, when I decided it was the right time to get this music back out into the world and into the hands of my dearest fans, I knew I wanted to do it in a way that would somehow say thanks for all of your faith over the years…. And that’s exactly why we’re here.
I can only imagine this is going to be fun…. Rock on!
It may be cheating to use a 1988 album to cover 2014, but what the hell, Lucinda was ahead of her time … this album is now seen as a cornerstone of Americana, yet that genre wouldn’t really be “invented” for several years.
Here are a couple of extra videos. This is a 2001 live version of my favorite song from that ‘88 album:
And, just to piss off my wife, who loves Lucinda Williams but not this particular song:
Maybe she’ll like this better, from 2000, “aim and shoot” as the cameraman says, so it’s not the best recording, but hey, it’s Lucinda and Bruce Springsteen, even though it cuts out after 10 minutes: