Song of the Day #289: ‘Blue’ – Lucinda Williams

essenceCar Wheels on a Gravel Road was a tough act to follow and Williams responded by going a whole new direction on her next release, Essence, released a relatively short (by her standards) two years later.

Essence eschewed the country rock and blues style of her earlier albums in exchange for a jazzier sound while the very specific lyrical content of previous songs was replaced by more abstract mood pieces. This is the album that suddenly made Lucinda Williams impossible to pin down in a single genre.

Essence contains one of Williams’ most provocative love songs, ‘I Envy the Wind,’ in which she laments that her love isn’t as pervasive as the elements:

I envy the wind
That whispers in your ear
That howls through the winter
That freezes your fingers
That moves through your hair
And cracks your lips
And chills you to the bone
I envy the wind

And so on for the rain and the sun. It’s a sadly sensual song and one of many highlights on the album. Another is the title track, another song about love that borders on obsession:

Baby, sweet baby, whisper my name
Shoot your love into my vein
Baby, sweet baby, kiss me hard
Make me wonder who’s in charge

Though no album could really measure up to Car Wheel, Essence was so new and unexpected a direction from Williams that it felt like a revelation.

Today’s song, ‘Blue,’ is an abstract little beauty, sad but sadly hopeful. Williams writes of going to “blue” to escape her problems. Is it a song about depression? Or is this blue something more positive, some inner meditation? It’s not really clear… the only description she gives is that her blue is “the color of night” but her reference to the raven — generally a symbol of death or bad luck — might provide a clue.

Go find a jukebox and see what a quarter will do
I don’t wanna talk, I just wanna go back to blue
Feeds me when I’m hungry and quenches my thirst
Loves me when I’m lonely and thinks of me first
Blue is the color of night
When the red sun
Disappears from the sky
Raven feathers shiny and black
A touch of blue glistening down her back
We don’t talk about heaven and we don’t talk about hell
We come to depend on one another so damn well
So go to confession, whatever gets you through
You can count your blessings, I’ll just count on blue

Blue is the color of night
When the red sun
Disappears from the sky
Raven feathers shiny and black
A touch of blue glistening down her back
Blue

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #289: ‘Blue’ – Lucinda Williams

  1. Dana says:

    I’m not sure I hear the departure from country on this song, but a very nice song nevetheless.

  2. Amy says:

    Don’t the first two lines of the song suggest that “blue” is the blues – music she can turn to whenever she’s in need? Just a thought.

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