Lucinda Williams’ Father Passes Away
Miller Williams, famed poet and father of singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams, has died at the age of 84.
Williams passed away Jan. 1 in a Fayetteville, Ark., hospital, due to complications of Alzheimer's disease, according to a family friend.
A longtime professor at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and a prolific writer, he read a poem at President Bill Clinton's 1997 inauguration titled 'Of History and Hope,' making him just the third inagural poet in history. Clinton describes Williams as "one of America's great poets" and says in a written statement, "I will always be grateful for his friendship, which began in 1973, when we were both teaching at the University of Arkansas, and for his beautiful reading at my second inaugural. His words are as meaningful today as they were nearly 20 years ago."
Although country fans are probably more familiar with his singer-songwriter daughter, Miller Williams is well known in the poetry world, having written, translated or edited more than 30 books and a dozen poetry collections.
"He was always willing to read a poem or write a poem if someone asked," says Lucinda Williams' younger sister, Karyn Williams. "I just remember people always being at our house, whether it was visiting writers or professors or just people out of luck. He was always willing to give a helping hand."
Miller Williams was proud of his country music daughter, explaining her craft as similar to his eloquent poetry.
"My poetry and her songs -- you could say they both have dirt under the fingernails," Williams once said. "In my writing, I try to get down to the nuts and bolts of living, and there’s no question that Lucinda does that, too. Her music is not abstract. There’s real sweat in every song.”
Last year, Lucinda Williams used her father's poem 'Compassion' in a unique and touching way, putting the poetry to music as the lead song on her eleventh studio record, 'Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone.' It was especially meaningful because Miller Williams' Alzheimer's was preventing him from writing more poetry.
“I wanted it to be sort of a tribute to my dad,” she says. “It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for years.”
Along with his two daughters, Miller Williams is survived by his wife Jordan and his son Robert. Our condolences go out to the entire Williams family.