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Lucinda Williams reflects on hardships on album 'Stories from a Rock N Roll Heart'

Lucinda Williams performs at 'Across The Great Divide' benefit concert.  (Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Across the Great Divide)
Lucinda Williams performs at 'Across The Great Divide' benefit concert. (Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Across the Great Divide)

Grammy-winning songwriter Lucinda Williams is still writing and performing even after the recent tumult of her own life. In 2020, amid the pandemic, a tornado struck her home in Nashville. In November of that year, a blood clot on her brain sent her to the hospital. The stroke set her back, but it could not keep her down.

Lucinda Williams has a new album out called “Stories From a Rock n Roll Heart.”

5 questions with Lucinda Williams

It’s been almost three years since the stroke. How are you doing?

“I’m doing great, actually. Recovery is a b****, as they say. It just takes time, and you have to be patient and try to stay positive at the same time.”

After the stroke, you couldn’t physically play the guitar. Are you still unable to play?

“Yeah, I still haven’t been playing. But I’m hoping, because I had to learn to walk again too, and I got that back, so I’m hoping that if I was able to walk again I’ll be able to play guitar again.”

You’ve been playing since you were 12 years old. What has that loss been like for you?

“It’s been hard because the way I write songs is with my guitar, so I felt kind of lost without it. But the thing is, I’ve got a great band behind me. I’ve got two great guitar players, Doug Pettibone and Stuart Mathis, so we get up on stage and they play and I sing. And it works.”

At this stage in your life, does the muse still speak to you in the same way?

“Yeah, it does. Because what I’ve learned over the years is that so much of songwriting is about deciding what to write about. That’s probably half of it right there. And I’m never at a lack for thinking of something to write about.”

You published a memoir called “Don’t Tell Anybody the Secrets I Told You.” In that book, you go pretty deep into a lot of secrets: your mother’s mental illness, your own struggles with mental health, obsessive-compulsive disorder, the long road you’ve had to success. Why did you feel the need to write a book when, for so many years, it was the music that’s been telling your stories?

“I feel like the two are nicely connected, the book and the album. Because, for so long, whenever I would play the songs live, I would always tell a little story about the song before I would sing it. And now the book is here, and the book kind of takes those little stories and just goes more into depth with them.”

Emiko Tamagawa produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Todd Mundt. Catherine Welch adapted it for the web.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.