Lucinda Williams Discusses Turning Dad’s Poetry Into New Song ‘Compassion’
Lucinda Williams' latest album, 'Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone,' was a daunting undertaking. The two-disc project covers myriad subjects and styles, from religion to her childhood to her almost 40-year career in country music. But of all the 23 tracks, perhaps none is quite as poignant as the song 'Compassion,' which is based on a poem by her father, famed poet Miller Williams, and inspired the title of the album.
“I found out it’s hard to take a poem and make it a song,” she tells the Tallahassee Democrat. “But now I think I figured out the formula. I repeated a lot lines, but I stayed true to the lyric.”
'Compassion' was turned into a song at the urging of her husband, Tom Overby, when the album was already almost completed.
"I definitely learned something when I did that," Williams admits to HuffingtonPost.com. But after studying the poignant lines in the poem, like "Have compassion for everyone you meet / Even if they don't want it / What seems conceit, bad manners or cynicism is always a sign / Of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen / You do not know what wars are going on / Down there where the spirit meets the bone," Williams knew she wanted to build on the powerful message.
"['Where the spirit meets the bone'] is just that place deep down inside all of us where nobody else can really see," she explains. "Everybody has different ways of dealing with that. Some people get cynical, some people act like idiots or come across with the bad manners thing. Like yelling at you when you're in your car driving, and some guy's ... road rage or whatever it is. The rude person in line who pushes ahead to get in line. Who knows what that person went through."
'Compassion' was written as a tribute to her father, who, at 84 years old, says he is no longer able to write what has sustained him for his entire adult life.
"I wanted it to be sort of a tribute to my dad," she admits to CMT Edge. "It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for years."
Williams is spending much of the fall on the road, performing songs from her new album. See all of her upcoming concerts here.
Download 'Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone' here.