Certain Songs #1040: Lucinda Williams – “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road”

Album: Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
Year: 1998

And another long wait. This time, six years.

But at the end of it, her acknowledged masterpiece. Car Wheels on a Gravel Road topped the Village Voices’ 1998 Pazz & Jop critics poll, won a Grammy and went gold, to boot.

And for all that, I’ve never fell completely in love with it: it’s obviously an incredibly strong and consistent record, but outside of the title track and maybe “Joy,” doesn’t have any tracks that I truly love in practice as much as I know I should love in theory.

Sittin’ in the kitchen, a house in Macon
Loretta’s singing on the radio
Smell of coffee, eggs and bacon
Car wheels on a gravel road

But then again, check out the detail in that opening verse. You can completely picture her sitting there, figuring that she’s probably listening to “Fist City,” while enjoying a tasty breakfast, when suddenly she hears a sound that can truly only be one thing.

With a guitar riff that always resolved exactly where it should, jangling leads as counterpoint and Gurf Morlix harmonies on the chorus, “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” is machine-tooled precision in every way.

“Car Wheels on a Gravel Road”

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