Dust · Lucinda Williams


The irony is I discovered this on my Spotify Discover Weekly playlist.

Do you worship at the altar of guitar gods? Do you like nothing more than to stand in front of the mirror playing air guitar as geniuses wail? Do you like to drive with the top down or the window open, with your hair blown back as picking emanates from the car stereo?

Then you’re gonna love “Dust.”

The Rough Trade LP built Lucinda Williams’s reputation, deservedly so. But at this point the hype has exceeded my interest. All the press stories on her new album…bounced right off of me.


That’s what the old school focuses on, press. And record reviews. But the truth is your goal is to get people to hear your music, that’s your only goal. And print won’t do it, it’ll only make those already addicted aware, and if you’re relying on print to reach these people I feel sorry for you. You want the e-mail address of each one of your fans, you want to keep in constant contact with them via Facebook, Twitter, whichever social media platform you prefer.

As for the rest of us… We stumble upon your tunes. If you’re already a known name we’re immune to the ravings of our friends, who’ve overburdened us with accolades already. We’re always open to greatness, it’s just a matter of matching the desire with the artwork.

You know it when you hear it.

And I knew it when I heard “Dust.”

It swings, from the opening notes, the call and response of the two guitarists, you’re immediately hooked, you find yourself nodding your head, even though this is the first time you’ve ever heard it.

We live in a world where the “hits” get all the attention, the toppermost of the poppermost on the radio. And some of those tracks are great confections, but if you make music just a bit outside the format you get no airplay, people are unaware of you, but that does not mean they don’t hunger for what you’re offering.

I’ve got no idea what Bill Frisell looks like, nor Greg Leisz either. But I can hear the years of practice, the honing of their chops, and their interplay is reminiscent of Duane and Derek on that double album so long ago. A lot slower, with even more soul. I’m sure Eric would love to participate.

Actually, Greg Leisz played in Clapton’s band, got to give Slowhand credit.

But Eric hasn’t riveted me this way recently.

“Dust” is otherworldly, hypnotic, you can hear the Americana roots, but the track is not burdened by that moniker. It’s just music. Made by people who put sound first, as opposed to revenue.

And there ain’t gonna be much revenue if Lucinda continues to march forward with one hand behind her back.

Yes, I laud her publicity campaign, however meaningless. But keeping her album off Spotify? Why? When you can stream on YouTube, steal from Russia… Why are musicians so ignorant, I understand they’re financially challenged, but anybody who knows anything about today’s music business knows that availability is key, you’ve got to make it easy, if you put money first you’re demonstrating short term thinking, there’s plenty of dough for those who connect.

I immediately wanted to hear more.

I could find only one more track from the album “The Ghosts of Highway 20” on Spotify. I certainly wasn’t going to buy a CD, where would I play it? As for iTunes… If you employ the abomination known as Apple Music you will never buy from the iTunes Store ever again, they changed all the artwork I meticulously culled for years, the interface sucks and I find it even harder to find my files and hear them. I’m sold on streaming. But it’s not only me, even Kanye said he was done with the CD.

But not Lucinda Williams, listening in the echo chamber of the bitching musicians who think Spotify is the enemy, not knowing it eradicated piracy and that most of the payment stories are flawed, from uninformed nobodies nattering on about that which they do not know.

Sure, I’d love it if everybody paid for streaming music.

But we’re in the midst of an evolution, we’re switching from free to payment, and if you think that occurs overnight you probably know no one still using a flip-phone, all these years after the smartphone.

Worse, Lucinda’s new album isn’t even listed in the discography on her own damn website. Huh? This is the downside of doing it yourself, things slip through the cracks.

Like this track. Released in advance of the album, as if anybody wants to salivate for months over the new music of someone who’s been around for decades. Funny how the youngsters drop it all right now, unannounced, and the oldsters are still building awareness.

Screw awareness, give me LISTENING!

And I won’t say that every track I hear on Discover Weekly floats my boat. But every week there are one or two, that make me happy, that titillate my soul.

And if it weren’t for that playlist I probably never would have heard “Dust,” and my life would be poorer for it. And it intrigues me, I want to hear the rest of the album, but if you think I’m gonna pay for it sight unseen you’re living in the last century.

So let this be a warning, stop being your own worst enemy. Either get with the program, embrace the future, or be left behind.

If only someone under thirty was helping Lucinda Williams out. If only people under thirty could hear this. They’d be stunned at the musicality, at the ability of oldsters to create something new out of thin air.

Listen to “Dust.” It’ll set your mind adrift. It’ll give you hope. It’ll make you believe that music is fine, even if the business is still screwed up.

P.S. I own no stock in Spotify, I receive no remuneration from the company. But I’ve got to applaud an enterprise that cut down piracy and put all the world’s music in one place for one low price. As for its free tier… You can’t be much of a music fan if you employ it. You can’t pick what you want to hear on your mobile device, and we live in a mobile world of instant access. We just want to know what to listen to. And it turns out that Spotify’s algorithm is better than Apple’s hand curation, the same way Amazon’s recommendation algorithms are better than the human recommenders the company used to employ. That’s right, more books were sold by algorithmic recommendation than by human recommendation. Amazon fired all the humans. But we need humans to create art, to play music, and “Dust” demonstrates so much humanity, if only Lucinda and Tom would employ the new means of getting the word out.



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