January 7, 2007

Quadruple giveaway: Lucinda Williams, Car Wheels On A Gravel Road (re-release)

Although Lucinda Williams is quite a bit twangier than my usual listening fare, her music is resilient, burnished, and strong. No precious “awwwww” lyrics, no Jesus Take The Wheel or Beaches of Cheyenne here, this is just solid backporch bluegrass country that always makes me feel a little bit fiercer when I listen to it.

Her 1998 album Car Wheels On A Gravel Road was her masterpiece, a Grammy-award winner for Best Contemporary Folk Album that needs to be listened to on the open road as the title would imply. It’s a thoughtful (but rollicking, and sometimes bitter) collection that traverses the grounds of loss, lust, and stories from a thousand little roadside bars across America.

Her best just got better recently with the re-release of Car Wheels On A Gravel Road as a remastered double disc with 3 previously unreleased songs added to the main album, and a second disc of live performances from WXPN Radio in Philly.

Thanks my pal Bruce from Some Velvet Blog (via Aquarium Drunkard), there’s a little info on that second set to share. Bruce says, “Here’s a cool back story. The live concert was from a WXPN summer festival that I booked back when Lu toured on that album. What happened was the A&R guy who did the re-issue wanted to do something cool and they were going through the vaults and found a box with these tapes in them and all the box said was Lucinda-WXPN. So, they threw it on, and it was this concert. There was no label, nothing. So the A&R guy asked around about WXPN which led to a call to me. We did the multi-track recording of the show, but never actually did anything and it sat on a shelf until I said they could go for it and use it.” Glad you did, Bruce. What a find.

Now, I have 4 of these double CDs to give away if you wanted to check out the re-release, or if you’ve never heard her but always meant to. To enter to win one, here’s the gauntlet:

Car Wheels On A Gravel Road is an album to be listened to on the highway, preferably a dusty one across a desert somewhere, with the windows down (and I would definitely recommend with no air conditioning). Leave a comment to tell me one song that you personally like to listen to out on the wide open road.

Winners for this one will be chosen at random from all coherent, contactable entrants.

Check out this jumpin’ blues song, one of the unreleased tracks from the main disc:

Down The Big Road Blues – Lucinda Williams

And I just flat-out love this song. As I wrote about it last year, “There is some *delicious* slide guitar throughout in the vein of Ben Harper, and a leg-slappin’, toe-tappin’ beat. Stand up and listen to this and if you can be still throughout, then I think your rhythm-appreciator-thingie is broken.”

Can’t Let Go – Lucinda Williams

And a sample of the great live set from WXPN (Bruce is just rolling in the good music over there in the vaults); I’ve thought before that the title of this song and the way it’s written may make it sound cornier and more cliched than the song itself deserves. The lyrics of this song are so dang evocative and sad and give me the chills. Junebug vs. hurricane indeed.

2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten – Lucinda Williams

PS – Lucinda has a new album coming out on Lost Highway on 2/13/2007. Called West, you can stream audio over on the Lost Highway site.

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  • ‘Long Vermont Roads’ by the Magnetic Fields is a quintessential driving song.

    I'm Your Huckleberry — January 8, 2007 @ 10:11 pm

  • I agree Heather, these suggestions are better than anything I was thinking of. I’d love to hear the resulting compilation. Still, I want to be entered in the contest, so, how about Seven Little Girls (Sitting In The Back Seat), by Paul Evans and the Curls?

    Leo M — January 8, 2007 @ 11:13 pm

  • Heather, this thread is awesome. Please compile this mix as one of those fab-o zip files you do so well.

    kingseyeland — January 8, 2007 @ 11:19 pm

  • I drive through the deep south fairly regularly. Emmylou Harris’s song Red Dirt Girl is mandatory for driving through eastern Mississippi. Heck, just pop in the whole CD for the perfect mood music straight on from Alabama straight on through Meridian. Where do I go to collect my sweet new re-mastered “Two Wheels” – which covers much of the same geography?

    DJ Cayenne — January 9, 2007 @ 2:11 pm



    Andrea — January 9, 2007 @ 3:15 pm

  • you know, i’ve gotta say “row row row your boat”…let me just hit the highlights…

    - 14 hours driving, it’s now about 3:00am
    - completely lost in longview, tx
    - 3″ of ice water in the floor of my jeep
    - my delirious then girlfriend/now wife singing row row row your boat as she made paddling motions between the driver’s and passenger seats

    and i can’t take a road trip without thinking of it…

    joey tulino — January 9, 2007 @ 3:32 pm

  • i know it’s a cliche, but i really do think Led Zepplin’s “Since i’ve been loving you” is probably the best driving song ever. no matter how focused you were on the road or how sad or brooding, you just HAVE TO whip out the air-guitar and give a mean drumming on the steerin wheel.

    it’s actually really dangerous :)


    guyha — January 9, 2007 @ 3:33 pm

  • Gee wiz, there are so many including I JUst Want To See You So Bad, numerous road songs from his royal Bruceness, but right now to name one for several reasons it has to be Ron Wood’s Seven Days from the Dylan 30th anniversary show. It’s about missing someone, counting time til the reunion, and that driving beat is perfect for the highway. I started working away from home in 2003. The first road trip lasted two months…by far the longest we’d been apart in almost 20 years. One night not long before I got to go home for the first time I realized RW’s cover of the Dylan song fit the bill perfectly. That an internet music friend was able to feed me an mp3 in such a needy time of jukebox fury love madness gives it a certain extra msagical quality in my heart.

    BigTontoLove — January 9, 2007 @ 4:06 pm

  • Easy. Neko case’s “Star Witness”; windows down, at night…

    Eric — January 9, 2007 @ 5:29 pm

  • I live in Europe, i’ve never been to America, but closest i get is when i play to myself “Golden” by My Morning Jacket. For me , it feel’s like an open road, prairie under stars,i’m driving my truck, forgetin’ my life, forgetin’ who i am, it’s transcedental.

    Dule Vukicevic — January 9, 2007 @ 5:42 pm

  • “My Winding Wheel” by Ryan Adams. Summer sunset in New England. Windows down, sunroof open. Dunkin Donuts coffee with way too much cream and sugar shoved into the center console. Driving through the mountains. M-m-m.

    Matt — January 9, 2007 @ 7:12 pm

  • Apologies in advance for the comment length, but the mix CD that has stood the test of travel for me:

    Goin’ to Chicago Blues (Ernestine Anderson)
    Take the ‘A’ Train (Sarah Vaughan)
    Last Train to Clarksville (Cassandra Wilson)
    Route 66 (Nat King Cole)
    Travellin’ South (Albert Collins)
    If I Don’t Be There by Morning (Eric Clapton)
    Ramblin’ on My Mind (Robert Johnson)
    Friend of the Devil (Lyle Lovett)
    Guitar Town (Steve Earle)
    B Movie Boxcar Blues (Delbert McClinton)
    Memphis in the Meantime (John Hiatt)
    Travelin’ Prayer (Dolly Parton)
    Truckin (Dwight Yoakam)
    Having a Real Bad Day (Taj Mahal)
    Call Me the Breeze (J.J. Cale)
    Midnight Rider (Allman Brothers)
    The Road’s My Middle Name (Bonnie Raitt)

    If I had to pick just one, though, it’d be Lucinda doing “Right in Time.” From the upbeat to the ending chord, it’s great and tight and makes me sing bad harmony over Jim Lauderdale and drive way too fast.

    Bette — January 9, 2007 @ 7:45 pm

  • Why limit yourself to one song, when The Magnetic Fields created a whole album in honor of the theme: “The Charm Of The Highway Strip”, which I find to be the most charming and least talked about disc from the great mastermind of Stephin Merritt. He takles it all, from lonely highways and dust bowl lament to country roads in Vermont, the moon and longing for rides on the railway. A great road trip collection from a great songwriter.

    Kevin — January 9, 2007 @ 9:00 pm

  • If this is open to Canadians, and if I’m not too late, I’d love a chance to win a cd – my tape of this album wore out a while ago.

    I’m glad you asked for one song I like rather than my favourite, because I don’t think I could choose a favourite and this wouldn’t be it if I could. One song I like to listen to on the road is Steve Earle’s “Sweet Little ’66.”

    ikkinlala — January 10, 2007 @ 8:42 am

  • I would say Shawn Colvin’s new one, Fill Me Up. Great driving beat, singalong harmonies, and lyrics: “Fill me up, fill me up I’m a long way from home and I don’t have a lot to say. Fill me up, fill me up, cuz you’re all that I’ve got and I’ve travelled a long, long way.”

    I don’t need the CD, already got it, but I just wanted to share my idea.

    Anonymous — January 10, 2007 @ 10:52 am

  • I like lazy, dusty-sounding songs about listening to the radio. Ghost Repeater by Jeffrey Foucault, Monster Ballads by Josh Ritter, and the fourteen minute haze of Gillian Welch’s I Dream a Highway are some favorites.

    Anonymous — January 11, 2007 @ 4:02 am

  • Oops – that last one was from lkoenig @ simmons . edu

    Anonymous — January 11, 2007 @ 4:06 am

  • a little off the wall, but it depends on the mood, time of night/day, naturally. but here are two..Tom Waits’ Heart Attack and Vine, don’t ask me why, just try it. And when it’s a quiet, clear night…convertible top down or not, Beck’s Golden Age.

    dwymer7003 — January 11, 2007 @ 9:18 am

  • “Lonely Highway Night” or “City of Lakes” By Matt Mays (www.mattmays.com). Anything from his first two CDs really is awesome on the road.

    Chris — January 11, 2007 @ 9:35 am

  • “Let It Ride” by Ryan Adams. About 30-40 minutes in most directions from where I live is a lot of farms and rural areas, it isn’t really the sticks though, it just seems like it. The combination of that and this song makes me feel like upstate NY is somewhere in the midwest.

    ^I already said that but I forgot my email address: pcauvel@rochester.rr.com

    Peter — January 11, 2007 @ 3:23 pm

  • When I first moved to Colorado, we used to listen to the Crash Test Dummies “God Shuffled His Feet” album (and song of the name) as we drove up to the fabulous Rocky Mountains to go skiing. I’d pick that one if I were driving up I-70 towards Breck/Copper/Vail. It’s got sort of an awe-inspiring “brand new day” feel to it, just like the Rocky Mountains do on an early winter morning.

    If I were driving up the California Coast, it’d have to be “Highway 101″ by Social Distortion. A cool punk rock song about believing in love again. And taking a drive.

    And when I drive to Vegas, I always always always have to play “Viva Las Vegas” by the big E as soon as I see the lights of the Strip. One of the best musical salutes to the vibe of a city ever put on vinyl. Or CD, depending on your age…

    Jeff C. — January 11, 2007 @ 6:31 pm

  • Steppenwolf’s “Born To Be Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride”. Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon” and Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again”. And Phil Collins “In The Air Tonight”.

    bigmac — January 11, 2007 @ 8:31 pm

  • I wanna win. I know I am 2 weeks too late. This song: Robbie Robertson – Somewhere Down The Crazy River. Check out the video, but the music will paint it’s own pictures. Hot, dusty and sexy, sexy, sexy.

    Dan — January 12, 2007 @ 1:14 pm

  • This may sound weird but got to go with Ministry’s “Psalm 69″ A friend back at university was into them and I actually liked a couple of their songs. I threw this on a mixed tape and would just listen to it over and over while driving. Not your typical entry (especially for a Lucinda Williams album) but I just connected to this song while driving.

    Mike — January 12, 2007 @ 1:49 pm

  • Ok b/c Life is a Highway was my first choice but already called, I’d have to go with….

    -Surrender by Cheap Trick
    -Picture Book by The Kinks

    True story: I was driving Raleigh, NC to Indianapolis, IN for a summer job, the northern route through Ohio. I had lots of tapes with me but for some reason, the one with “Village Green Preservation Society” on one side and “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” on the other kept being played. I swear to God, it was the only thing that got me through Ohio, when I was making deals with God if only he’d get me to the state line as quick as possible because I couldn’t stand driving another second.

    Erica — January 12, 2007 @ 2:37 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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