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Social Distancing with Lucinda Williams: Dinner Deliveries, Docs, and (Nick) Drake

“I haven’t left the house in like four weeks,” says the singer-songwriter, who discusses her revised daily routine

Danny Clinch*

As the world fights a pandemic, we reached out to some of our favorite artists with a few quarantine questions about these unprecedented times. Last week, Lucinda Williams lost two colleagues and friends, John Prine and producer Hal Willner, to the coronavirus. “For a lot of our friends it just hit close to home, so it’s making people more concerned now,” she says. “Everybody’s been, like, checking on [her  husband and manager, Tom Overby] and making sure I’m OK. And we’re OK. Tom and I are doing fine. I haven’t left the house in, like, four weeks now.”

Here’s what Williams — who’s about to release a new album, Good Souls Better Angels, on April 24th — had to say about how COVID-19 is impacting her.

What’s the status of your touring plans for the new album?
We had shows and we canceled everything through the middle of July. We were supposed to be in New York to do five nights at City Winery, and they moved those to second half of July. But who knows? We were supposed to go to Europe. We still have shows booked in the U.K. for August — hanging onto those so far. But we had some other shows in July in Italy and Spain that got pushed to next year.

What are you doing with your unexpected time at home?
Basically, I’m taking advantage of this time to do tons of press in advance of the album release. That’s kept me feeling as if there’s a little bit of normalcy there. It keeps me in touch with the music world and music business and music people. Yesterday I did an interview that was supposed to be in person, but because of the pandemic, we got on the Zoom thing. Today, this photographer came over to do some photographs and we had to do it outside and stay six feet away from each other.

The normal day is, basically, Tom and I stay up late and sleep late, because there’s no point getting up early. So that seems to help. It makes the day shorter and probably better? I’ll make coffee and do an interview around 1 o’clock and catch up on emails and maybe listen to music. And then it’s time to start thinking about dinner. We can’t wait too late for that. We have to start thinking about dinner around 7:30 or 8, and we get that delivered through Postmates or one of those companies, and then we have dinner and then decide what we’re going to watch on Netflix.

What have you been watching on Netflix?
We were so behind, so you’ve probably already seen most of it, but we finished watching the rest of Peaky Blinders. It’s really highly recommended. It’s a period piece, like an English or Irish Sopranos set in the Twenties. It’s really well-filmed and well-acted. It’s about a crime family that started off as sort of a street gang, and they work their way up through society. They call it Peaky Blinders because they wear those little English caps with these razor things hidden in the bib of the cap, and they take their hats off and fight the other guys. So we watched the rest of that.

How about Tiger King?
Yeah, we watched that. There was a lot of humor to it and craziness and insanity and everything. I’m a true-crime buff, and I love stuff about people living on the margins of society. So for me, it wasn’t that unusual. It needs to be taken seriously because of the situation with the animals. But the weirdness of the people involved probably didn’t throw me off quite as much as maybe other people. I love documentaries like that or Making a Murderer, which was really interesting.

What music do you turn to in times of crisis for solace and comfort, and why?
We just moved into this house in Nashville and all our stuff is in storage back in our house in L.A. We don’t have any sound system or CDs or anything right now. So I’ve been turning on the TV and getting one of those music channels, like Pandora or iHeart or something. One day I was listening to some Nick Drake. What do you call it when they figure out what kind of music you’re listening to and then they pick up stuff they think you would like? Like an algorithm? It actually worked out pretty well. The next time I clicked it on, Nick Drake came back on and then all these other really cool tracks from different artists. So that’s been nice afternoon music.

You’re also working on a memoir, so you’re keeping yourself busy.
Ever since I was a child, I have never had a problem being bored. I liked being indoors and writing and drawing and reading and all that. If one of us ever said we were bored — and I don’t ever remember saying it, but maybe my brother or sister did — my dad would say, “When I was your age, I used to throw rocks at telephone poles.” That was a pastime back in the Depression era when he was growing up.