Lucinda Williams has been called “too country for rock, too rock for country,” by popular radio and record executives since the ‘80s, but Lucinda Williams has never succumbed to industry pressures to make her style a sound other than one uniquely her own. A three-time Grammy award winner in three different genres, Williams has fused blues, country, folk, and rock origins with a southern gothic writing element to meticulously craft an impressive body of work that transcends labels.
Praised by critics and musicians alike, she has earned one of the finest reputations in the songwriting industry. Rolling Stone named her one of the 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time, and in 2002, TIME magazine crowned Williams “America’s Best Songwriter.” Her achievements and influence in music are undeniable, but still the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has yet to honor her contributions, despite being eligible and deserving of the recognition since 2004.
Since 1979 Williams has released 12 studio albums and been a highly sought after songwriter among music insiders and her peers. Tom Petty and Patty Loveless both covered tracks off of Williams’s self-titled 1988 release, Lucinda Williams, and Emmylou Harris covered the title track off of 1992’s Sweet Old World for her career re-defining album, Wrecking Ball.
Harris told Paste of Williams:
Lucinda is an example of the best of what country at least says it is, but, for some reason, she’s completely out of the loop, and I feel strongly that that’s country music’s loss.
Her talent was not lost on ‘90s country artist, Mary Chapin Carpenter. Carpenter’s cover of “Passionate Kisses” went to number four on the Billboard Hot Country Singles and Tracks chart and crossed over to the Billboard Hot 100 Chart as well. Her cover resulted in a Grammy for Williams in 1999 for Best Country Song.
Williams is also responsible for one of the most critically acclaimed albums of the last 20 years, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. Its release in 1998 earned praise far and wide, and led one critic to refer to Williams as a “living legend” whose name could be uttered in the same sentence as Joni Mitchell or Bob Dylan without a second thought. Car Wheels on a Gravel Road earned Williams a spot on many critics’ top 10 lists that year and a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album. In recent years, Rolling Stone named Car Wheels on a Gravel Road one of the 100 Best Albums of the Nineties and one of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, cementing its place in pop culture and its inevitable impact on future generations.
In the last decade, Williams has proven her continued relevance with unwavering success in an industry that keeps trying, and failing, to label her. Since 2007, she has released five studio albums, including the double album, Where the Spirit Meets the Bone, marking this current period as the most prolific of her career. That is why it is time for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to honor Williams. She has made a lasting impact in blues, country, rock and folk and continues to thrive. For her unique and remarkable contributions in the music industry for the last 40 years, Lucinda Williams deserves a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.