Lucinda Williams has won three Grammy awards, and Time magazine called her America's best songwriter. Her recording career began in the late 1970s, when she made the first of two albums for the Smithsonian Folkways label.
Lucinda Williams' latest album, World Without Tears, is full of love songs, but they're the kind you might play over and over after an ugly breakup, NPR's Bob Edwards says.
"I guess you could write a good song if your heart hadn't been broken, but I don't know of anyone whose heart hasn't been broken," Williams tells Edwards in a Morning Edition interview. "I mean, that's just part of living."
A prime example of that pain laid bare is "Those Three Days," in which a relationship is cut unexpectedly short:
Did you only want me for those three days? / Did you only need me for those three days? / Did you love me forever, just for those three days?
"She was pretty hurt and angry," Williams says of the woman in the song. "She had a chip on her shoulder about it and she needed to write a song about it to get it out of her system."
And of course, along with anyone who listens to the song, the man who done her wrong gets to know how she felt about the breakup. "He knows. That got my point across. That's what happens when you get involved with a songwriter," Williams says with a laugh, realizing she gets the last word.
Williams finds it difficult to explain her songs. "It's hard to analyze your own material," she says.
But she does seem able to describe the writing process pretty well. "It's really about living in your head... just looking out at the world, then going back into your head and tossing around a lot of ideas and coming out with something interesting to say."