"I'm not cynical and jaded, like some artists get," offers Lucinda Williams, the 61-year-old Grammy-award winning country/folk singer.
It's a refreshing admission, considering how long Williams has been at this racket. She released her first full-length album 35 years ago, and has remained a touring mainstay in between years of relative inactivity. In fact, she's been more prolific since 2001 than she has at any point in her career, this despite not having released any new albums since 2011's "Blessed."
In anticipation of her headlining performance June 4 at the TD Arena at the College of Charleston as part of the Spoleto Festival, Lowcountry Current talked to Williams about the biggest compliment a music artist has given her, her favorite music era and rockin' in the free world.
Question. What's the biggest compliment another musician has given you?
Williams. When Emmylou Harris covered "Crescent City" (from 1988's "Lucinda Williams"), that was pretty cool.
Elvis Costello has said a couple really cool things about me. I can't quote it exactly. He said something like, I was the female Keith Richards.
Q. What artist would you most like to collaborate with?
Williams. Keith Richards. He seems to really have a handle on country music.
Q. Do you have a favorite era of your career?
Williams. Yeah, I would have to say the '60s. I started playing the guitar in 1965 and that's the same year that I got turned on to Bob Dylan. And that was the year that his "Highway 61 Revisited" came out. Actually he's someone I'd like to collaborate with. All the music that formed my music was the stuff that came out in the '60s when I was a teenager. That was my time to first hear a lot of stuff that was just coming out, like Hendrix and The Doors and The Rolling Stones and The Beatles and Bob Dylan. The list goes on and on.
Q. Have you given any thought to retiring?
Williams. (Laughs) No. Has there been (thought) or will there be?
Williams. There hasn't been because I can't afford to.
Q. What part of being a musician never gets old?
Williams. When I get on stage performing, that never gets old. I still get nervous at times. I still get excited. I'm really not a jaded kind of person.
Q. Is there anything you're sick of?
Williams. To be honest, sometimes I don't want to do a lot of press. I'm not great about having to do that a lot of the time.
Williams. That's OK. There isn't anything that I'm sick of. It's just part of what I do. I just remind myself how blessed and fortunate I am being able to make my living doing this.
Q. Have you ever been confused with Victoria Williams?
Williams. Yeah, people get us confused. Just the name. They'll say, "Oh, you play 'such and such,'" and I'll say, "no, I think you're talking about Victoria."
Q. Like Pearl Jam, you often close your shows with a cover of Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World."
Williams. I didn't know that. That's cool. I think it's awesome.
Q. What appeals to you about that song?
Williams. I just love the refrain. That line "keep on rockin' in the free world." It's just such a great line. It's almost kind of like an anthem and the audience always claps. It's just a great song.
OTHER INTERVIEWS BY BLAIR R. FISCHER