'Highway' To Heaven
Lucinda Williams’ cracked, weary drawl would probably make Celine Dion fans cringe, but on her new album — Car Wheels on a Gravel Road — Williams’ weathered twang conveys more emotion in one drawn-out vowel than Dion does in 10 ear-piercing wails.
It’s no wonder, then, that a young Williams found inspiration in Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited, his 1965 masterpiece of intensely evocative ”bad” singing.
”That was the first Dylan album I heard. I’m sure I’d heard about him, but before that I was listening to Peter, Paul and Mary, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, the Carter Family, and Hank Williams. I started out playing traditional folk music, and my father [Miller Williams] is a poet, so I grew up around writers. Highway 61 brought those two worlds together, the more traditional musical world and the literary world. A student of my dad’s brought it over right when it came out to play it for him. I was just blown away. That stuff just turned my world around. Dylan was coming out of the Woody Guthrie school of folk music, but he was also hanging out with guys like Allen Ginsberg. It just made complete sense to me. When I heard it I said, ‘This is what I want to do. This is what I want to strive towards.’ It’s important to have someone to look up to. Everyone has to have someone who they think is better than they are.”