Magazine article The New Yorker

Lu in the Afternoon

Magazine article The New Yorker

Lu in the Afternoon

Article excerpt

There are few things more perilous on tour than a free afternoon. Lucinda Williams, the singer and songwriter, had one during a swing through the city not long ago to play a couple of gigs. "Last time I was in New York, we went to Trash and Vaudeville, and I spent--how much, honey?" Honey was her manager and husband of two years, Tom Overby, a mild and lanky Minnesotan. They were out on the sidewalk in Cooper Square in the dying light of an idle Sunday. They hadn't been awake long. (Williams sleeps past noon while on tour.) "This was before we realized we were broke," Williams went on. "I spent, like, eight thousand dollars." So shopping was out. Instead, it was decided, they would get a drink. A few blocks away, they found an airy Italian restaurant, sat down at the bar, and ordered a bottle of Brunello. The bartender, sensing something, poured Williams the first taste. "Mmm, yeah, that's good," she said.

Williams and Overby live in Los Angeles, in Studio City. Eleven years ago, she was quoted in this magazine saying--twice--"I fucking hate fucking New York." But she doesn't really. She spent almost a year here, in 1978. She worked as a waitress and busked in the East Village and sometimes rode the subway out to Queens to play at a bar called the Flushing Local. One night, she was at Gerde's Folk City, in the Village. "I was asked to get up and play two or three songs. The owner, Mike Porco, this little Italian guy, the sweetest guy, came over to me and said, 'Lucinda, I want-a you to meet a friend of mine. This is-a Bobby.' " It was Bob Dylan. "He was with a beautiful tall black woman, and they'd driven down from Woodstock, I guess in their own car. For me, it was like there was no one else in the room. I've never experienced anything like it. He'd been my hero since I was twelve. He had heard me sing a couple of songs. 'Keep in touch,' he said. 'We're going out on the road soon.' " As he was leaving, she positioned herself by the door. "He leaned over and gave me a kiss on the cheek."

Twenty years later, Williams went out on a short tour with Dylan and Van Morrison, as a supporting act. "I had this fantasy that we'd all hang out," she said. "Nothing could've been farther from the truth. Nobody talked to each other. Van's band was unhappy, never sure if they'd get fired one day or the next. …

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