TO THE FIRMAMENT
This gently rocking number with the Dylan-esque organ riffs (circa Highway 61Revisited) is a profound statement about not succumbing to seriousness. It was written at a time when two of
Williams' friends were dying-one of cancer, one from anorexia. "I was with a friend and his daughter at one of those paint-your-own-pottery studios and I saw how the kids were calling the shots, and the parents were being sort of shy and obedient. It seemed like a good order of things."
A GOD DESCENDED
Inspired by writer Isaac Bashevis Singer's book, Satan in Goray, about a 17th century failed Messianic movement, this powerful number laments faith gone awry. Williams says, "I'm strangely sympathetic to people who join cults. They're obviously searching for more than your
average mall rat.”
"This song came in on a subtle frequency. I finally went back and wrote about the hinge in my life between depression and sanity, and where things went from there."
DO YOU LOVE MORE THAN LOVE
"As far as most of my songs go, this one is a happy one," says Williams, who wrote the tune as a result of a trip to the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan, east of Nepal. "As I was spinning the prayer wheels and visiting ancient temples, I asked myself a lot of questions about how to love without needing to be loved so much. The trip was an antidote to thinking about my touring life and career in general".
Williams wrote "Spring Street" when she was contemplating a move from the Western Massachusetts college town of Northampton to New York City while simultaneously pondering the side effects of career success. "I was just getting a bunch of royalty checks from my albums and I was feeling like maybe I could move to a little apartment on Spring Street in New York," says Williams. "There's a tug in the song between the chaotic green world of springtime the season, and Spring Street the commodity". (Footnote: Williams has moved from Northampton to a town in upstate New York.)
LEARNED THE SEA
"This is about a seasoned old ship captain who happens to be eight years old.”
WON'T BE YOUR YOKO ONO
"Yoko Ono was a big hero at Wesleyan for her performance art," says Williams. "Most people only think of her as the person responsible for breaking up the Beatles."
Of late, Williams has been opening her live sets with this quiet ballad which the songwriter began working on in 1995. "I discovered I couldn't just will my life to slow down, and that earthy-crunchy thing of getting back to nature wasn't going to just happen." On nights when there were full moons, Williams would park her car and watch the moon through the trees. "I kept saying 'This isn't working, this isn't working', but days later those experiences were still in my mind, and I finished the song."
HAD NO RIGHT
A poignant number about civil disobedience in the face of unjust governmental actions, this song takes its inspiration from the poetry and protests of activists Daniel and Philip Berrigan. Williams says, "They were putting the Vietnam War on trial. I was interested in how they alienated both sides – the mainstream right wing and the left-leaning Catholic workers - by challenging the war, and destroying property to do it."
HAPPENS EVERY DAY
This day-in-the-life song starts out quietly with the full band entering in stages. "It's about just hanging out in Northampton", Williams says. "It's a reflection of the little details involved in getting through a day."
"I have a friend who talks about the cult of fascination, where everyone aspires to attract oohs and ahs," Williams explains. "I don't want to be fascinating; I want to be fascinated."
Home Back to the library