The Real Lucinda Williams | Letters | Chicago Reader

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The Real Lucinda Williams

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To the editors:

Just so the Reader's readers don't get the idea that going to a Lucinda Williams concert isn't any fun, I'd like to take issue with Chris Dickinson's review [October 23] of the recent Park West show. Not only did I find Ms. Williams a charming performer, as did, I believe, many if not most in attendance, but I reject Ms. Dickinson's critical stance.

Dickinson didn't like Williams's "wooden demeanor onstage," claiming she was "stiff as a board, her eyes blank, her face devoid of expression," and, with a gratuitous beating of a dead (wooden?) horse, that she "had all the charisma of a dry twig." She called her between-song conversation "perfunctory and the performance itself lackluster." Then--this is the amazing part--Dickinson says Williams's stage presence should aspire to the "ingenuous sparkle of Dolly Parton" (now there's a talent), that a "rather cerebral" show is somehow bad (I can just see Dickinson doing her George Bush impression for her friends: "cerebral: bad--specious: good"), that "at her worst [Williams] was like the prim Miss Jane Hathaway," and finally that it's a darn shame that "such an insightful songwriter and expressive singer could so thoroughly fail to convey the least bit of passion."

First of all, Ms. Dickinson is not authorized to speak for the whole audience on whether there was any passion being conveyed. I, for one, perceived plenty. Second, we went to the Park West that night to see and to listen to Lucinda Williams--not some manic Mick Jagger clone, and certainly not Dolly Parton. It's not every day that you get to see a musician who doesn't have an act (boy, she'd just hate Jimmie Dale Gilmore). We saw the real Lucinda Williams, which is what we came for, and we loved her. Maybe she's just a little shy. Should that disqualify her from the chance to perform her songs and preclude us from enjoying her performance? I pray not. And finally, what in the world is the smartest newspaper in the city doing printing a review by someone who uses a character from the Beverly Hillbillies as a point of comparison? C'mon.

David A. Schabes

W. Potomac

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