Certain Songs #1001: Lucinda Williams – “Changed The Locks”

Album: Lucinda Williams
Year: 1988

Like Tom Waits or Katy Perry, the album where Lucinda Williams became Lucinda Williams wasn’t her debut album.

Prior to 1988’s Lucinda Williams, she had two previous albums, 1979’s all covers Rambling and 1980’s Happy Woman Blues, neither of which I’ve ever heard, though I’m guessing that some of you probably have and will tell me that I’m missing some great stuff.

In any event, Lucinda Williams came equipped with a whole reinvention story and a completely unique-feeling mix of rock, blues, folk and country, all of which was sung by Williams in a tough, feral voice.

My favorite was the slow-burning “Changed The Locks,” where, anchored by a bluesy harmonica and Gurf Morlix’s aching guitar, Lucinda explains all of the things gonna do to get a way from a man she thinks has a bit too much power over her.

I changed the lock on my front door
So you can’t see me anymore
And you can’t come inside my house
And you can’t lie down on my couch
I changed the lock on my front door

The think I love about “Changed The Locks” is the escalation of the things she’s going to do to keep herself away from this dude. It starts with changing the locks, of course, but almost instantly, she’s changing her phone number, too.

I changed the number on my phone
So you can’t call me up at home
And you can’t say those things to me
That make me fall down on my knees
I changed the number on my phone

After that, as the harp wails and the guitar screams, it just gets crazy, and near the end, she lists all of the things she’s done to keep herself away from him.

I changed the lock on my front door
I changed the number on my phone
I changed the kind of car I drive
I changed the kind of clothes I wear
I changed the tracks underneath the train
I changed the name of this town
I changed the name of this town
I changed the name of this town

At no point does she seem like a victim here, which is the key that unlocks “Changed The Locks.” Rather, she seems like somebody needs to keep herself from making the same bad decision yet again, and is willing to go through all sorts of lengths in order to do so.

And even considering those lengths — and don’t worry about how she changed the name of her town, just know that she did — you end up making the assumption that it wasn’t quite enough.

“Changed The Locks” live at Austin City Limits

“Changed The Locks” live on VH1, 2001

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable somewhat up to date database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

Comments are closed.