Bootleg Nation: Lucinda Williams - Sweet and Tender Kisses (02/26/89)

Lucinda Williams performs a gorgeous, heart-wrenching show in the early part of her career.
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lucinda williams sweet and tender kisses

Lucinda Williams
"Sweet And Tender Kisses"
KPFK-FM Radio Live Performance, Los Angeles, CA

Download the MP3@320kps

February 26, 1989

01 Big Red Sun Blues
02 Crescent City
03 Like A Rose
04 All I Want (It Don't Matter To Me)
05 Abandoned
06 Wild And Blue
07 Something About What Happens When We Talk
08 Sundays

Lucinda Williams - guitar, vocals
Gurf Morlix - guitar, background vocals
Dr. John Ciambotti - bass

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Lucinda Williams is the queen of heartache. The Prime Minister of break-ups. The princess of bad relationships. She's felt the pain of love gone bad is what I'm saying. You can hear it in her songs. She's been singing about it for over 30 years.

I tend to break Lucinda's career into two sections with the dividing line being her 1998 break-through album, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. Up until that point her songs dwelled in that ambivalent space often known as alternative country. For her that meant music that carried with it the influence of the blues, folk, old country, and just a touch of rock and roll. For the mainstream that meant she defied labels and found herself too country for rock radio and not polished enough for mainstream country.

She was critically acclaimed and her songs were covered by artists such as Mary Chapin Carpetner (whose cover of "Passionate Kisses" won them both a Grammy) and Emmylou Harris, but she never sold many records until Car Wheels.

She was a meticulous perfectionist often dragging out her record release dates for years (in her first two decades she only released five albums.) In fact, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road took her seven years to create. According to legend she wrote, performed, and cut nearly the entire album earlier but for reasons not yet fully explained she decided to scrap the whole thing and start back over from scratch.

Since Car Wheels she's upped the time it takes her to release albums (having released five more records plus a live one, in the last 10 years) and changed her sound. Both Essence and World Without Tears have more pop sensibilities than folk ones. Albeit pop music wrung through the most depressing wringer imaginable. They are gorgeous, striking albums, but filled with some of the most heart-wrenching, soul-squashing songs she's ever recording. With 2008's Little Honey and her most recent, Blessed, she's gotten a lot livelier, and stranagely happy.

This show was recording for a radio show a few months after the release of Lucinda Williams, which was only her second album of original songs (her first album, Ramblin' was mostly full of blues and old country covers.) It came eight years after her previous album but she packed it with poetry, art, and the savage pain of someone who has lived and lost it all more than once.

Lucinda writes song like Bob Dylan by way of Hank Williams and Muddy Waters. There's grit in her voice and loss in her soul. She writes songs beyond her years and sings them like a sage.

This performance is filled with courage and bravery. She lays it all out in the open for us. She takes a dagger, cuts herself open and lets the blood flow to the floor. All while we sit with in amazement, taking it all in.

The tracks mostly come from Lucinda Williams with a couple of other songs that I don't believe have ever been officially released and one track "Sundays" that would find its way onto her yet to be released Sweet Old World album.

These songs hold special meaning for me as they were shared by me and my wife as we were discovering both Lucinda, ourselves, and a burgeoning romance.  "Something About What Happens When We Talk" is especially meaningful as it mirrors our own feelings for each other communicating with just our words as we lived a good thousand miles apart.

The sound quality is perfect.  It was recorded for a radio show and so the recording is completely professional.  I can't hear a lick of audience noise, but neither is there any of that inane radio chatter from annoying DJs that usually fill these type of performances. It is so good in fact that three of the songs were inlcuded in the special edition release of Lucinda Williams (and thus are not now included in this bootleg).

It is a stripped down set with Lucinda playing with just two other musicians (guitar and bass).  The songs are new, but they are already lived in.  They are songs that will be played and loved by musicians and music lovers for decades to come.

Lucinda Williams is a songwriter's songwriter. She writes music of such perfection it is as if they always were. There is a great sadness that dwells in the heart of her songs that have a way of touching you deep down in the darker places of your heart. Yet there is beauty too. Gorgeous, harrowing beauty. This is a great, great show. A simply perfect collection of songs played immaculately. An absolute must-have.