Lucinda Williams and Elvis Costello hardly qualify as mainstream country artists, but each has absorbed traditional Southern music, written country songs and had a long affinity with Nashville. The stars of the debut episode sing two duets,...... Read Full Episode Summary »
Lucinda Williams and Elvis Costello hardly qualify as mainstream country artists, but each has absorbed traditional Southern music, written country songs and had a long affinity with Nashville. The stars of the debut episode sing two duets, Costello's "Poisoned Rose" and a fiery version of Williams' "Changed the Locks." They provide backing vocals for each other on four songs -- including a Rolling Stones cover -- and Williams' road band plays throughout. Williams, a native of Louisiana who lived in Nashville for several years, is an outsider on Music Row and mainstream country radio. However, she commands the highest respect in roots and rock music circles, and a handful of country artists have recorded her songs. Emmylou Harris has long championed Williams, recording "Crescent City" and "Sweet Old World." Mary Chapin Carpenter recorded "Passionate Kisses," earning Williams a Grammy for best country song in 1993. As a recording artist, Williams won the Grammy for best contemporary folk album for 1998's Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. Upon the album's release, Rolling Stone called Williams "America's greatest songwriter" and described Car Wheels on a Gravel Road as a "masterpiece" and "heartbroken country classic." Based in Ireland by way of England, Costello emerged as a chief songwriting voice of the late '70s punk and new wave explosion. He quickly shed that tag, though, and evolved into a songwriting icon in the pop field. He is revered as one of the most innovative and influential songwriters since Bob Dylan. In 1981, Costello recorded Almost Blue in Nashville with legendary country producer Billy Sherrill. The album features Costello interpreting songs by Hank Williams, Don Gibson, Gram Parsons, Charlie Rich and other country greats. His version of George Jones' "Good Year for the Roses," from the same album, was a hit record in England.