Runnin’ Down A Dream: A Tribute to Tom Petty
Highway 20 Records marketed and distributed by Thirty Tigers
Billed as Lu’s Jukebox, Lucinda Williams and her band are combating the lockdown’s dismissal of live gigging by recording a covers series – hd videos recorded live in a studio which are then also available on vinyl or however you stream/get your music…
First out of the gate in a planned six-volume series is this tribute to Tom Petty timed for what would have been his 70th birthday last year and though it takes its cover graphics from Full Moon Fever it does grab from more than just that album, featuring a dozen Petty songs in total – reaching back and forth across the catalogue and with a closing thirteenth song penned by Lucinda in further tribute (Stolen Moments).
Like Petty, Williams was born in the south – and they share not only that but also a way of letting bar-room rock, country and folk inflect through their own white version of the blues.
So she’s well placed, musically, to cop the feel and flow of his songs and wisely doesn’t attempt to circle the very mercurial nature of The Heartbreakers – one of the great live bands.
So Lucinda’s band is messy and sprawly (Gainesville) and if it doesn’t always work there’s at least admiration for the gesture. And when it does work the southern roots feel takes a classic song (Louisiana Rain) and reshapes it to suit Lucinda’s drawl.
I love the extra dark menace and rumble to A Face In The Crowd, the sweetness that Williams offers Wildflowers, taking it away from its folk fingerpicking and making it a hangover-ballad to match some of her Essence-era gems. And the band really is majestic the way it works up a slow-simmer for Room At The Top.
But much as I love Lucinda Williams I don’t need o hear her doing all of these Petty covers – I would much prefer to hear her sprinkling one or two through a set.
I say that – and then she delivers Southern Accents. And I love the ache in her voice. It can’t beat Tom’s version and of course it isn’t trying to.
So if you take this for what it is – musical friends waving out to one another across the divide – then you can find something to like.
I don’t love all of the results here – but, crucially, I don’t doubt any of the intentions.
I look forward to seeing what else Lu’s Jukebox serves up.