It's not a stretch in any way to link Lucinda Williams, Bob Dylan, and Hank Williams, other than Bob has a different last name. Two of the finest, if not the finest songwriters to grace our culture, and one not far behind, slightly more hidden, just as emotionally rich, and from a female perspective.
Still when Bill Frissell opened his show last year at Kilbourn Hall stringing together I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry, Valley of Tears, and Masters of War, each one was a surprise. His lush, long notes filling the hall, hanging in the air until replaced by the next.
Thematically there could be angles of connection in the literal sense, but it didn't seem to be the point. The image of Dylan, Williams and Williams without words, their songs brought to life together in one sequence had a mesmerizing effect.
All the emotion and anger, joy and despair, quiet and rage, fused in those songs, had an unconscious effect. Well, maybe not joy. Something about the voice of the writer. Being true to themselves. All the depth and simplicity.
It was the surprise and the beauty of an unexpected medley that was my introduction to Bill Frissell. One I won't soon forget.
Later on that summer, I saw Lucinda Williams at the Armory where she fittingly paid tribute to her opening act, Charlie Louvin. Bill Frissell would have enjoyed that moment too, I imagine.
Perhaps he'll add "Great Atomic Power" to his next medley.
For more on the 2007 RIJF follow the link below.
Click on last year's Jazz Pass.