' ' Cinema Romantico: A Crowning Achievement

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Crowning Achievement

Yesterday was a big day for Cinema Romantico. If you were unaware, yesterday was the release date of "West" - the brand new album from singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams. And despite the blizzard that engulfed the fine city of Chicago I spent my lunch break pressing through the snow and slush (good God, the slush) and past the people who can't walk in perfect weather let alone a snowstorm to make it to a Borders to purchase the album. When the work day got bad at one point yesterday I removed the CD from its little bag - still in the plastic wrapping - and admired it. Yes, it made me that damn happy.

A Lucinda Williams release, you see, is a mighty big deal and not simply because of the overwhelming of the content on the album. Her records are like the Olympics, once every four years. Really. I realized while traipsing through the falling snow yesterday afternoon that my stops in life can actually be broken down through her last four album releases.

1.) I purchased Car Wheels on a Gravel Road while residing in Norwalk, Iowa.
2.) I purchased Essence while living in Phoenix, Arizona.
3.) I purchased World Without Tears while a resident of Des Moines, Iowa.
4.) And now I have purchased West here in the great city of Chicago, Illinois.

As you can see, it does not occur often. And I can only hope I don't follow the pattern and -despite all the wonderful things the Hawkeye State has to offer - wind up back in Iowa for the next one.

"Car Wheels on a Gravel Road" sounded like nothing I'd ever heard before and, quite frankly, it still sounds that way. Aside from Bruce Springsteen, there's never been an album I've encountered to equal it (though The Arcade Fire's "Funeral" came close).

And from that very first listen Lucinda earned the lofty and important Cinema Romantico title of Female Bruce Springsteen. She held the title for a long, long time despite others trying to stake a claim. Emmylou Harris tried and failed. As did Karen Bergquist of Over the Rhine. Holly Williams gave a spirited effort but not enough. Kathleen Edwards had come the closest back in early 2003 when her album "Failer" essentially saved my life for a few months. But no dice. Not for anyone.

Not until last year. After the release of Neko Case's new LP and seeing her live at The Vic here in the Windy City, and thinking about it for a good week afterwards, I decided Ms. Case had become the new Female Bruce Springsteen.

But then this morning..........wait, let me back up just a second. A few years ago Time Magazine called Lucinda Williams our greatest songwriter. I do not disagree. Oh, she can't compete with the Springsteen of the 70's and 80's (no one can) but since the 90's I would agree heartily that she is the absolute best of the absolute best. And this morning on the train, as we crossed the Chicago River, Lucinda's new tune "Words" came on my Ipod the following line graced my ears...........

My words just like the feel of the paper
better than mingling with your consonants.

I about fell off my seat. I had to rewind it and make sure I'd heard it right. I had. She really did write that. And somehow, someway Lucinda had summed up the way I've felt for my whole life in a mere two lines.

And just like Muhammad Ali once knocked out George Foreman in The Rumble in the Jungle to regain his heavyweight title, allow me to say All Hail Lucinda "F---in'" Williams. The Female Bruce Springsteen.

1 comment:

The Fab Miss B said...

I can't download the new Lucinda Williams, (damn this dial up connection!) but am really looking forward to it. She's so fucking brilliant. This post made me miss Chicago. It would have been fun to listen to her new record over a beer together...Hoping to see you when we come through in March.