Post image for Lucinda Williams: “Unsuffer Me”

Lucinda Williams: “Unsuffer Me”

by Stephen Hebert on Thursday - 22 February 2007

in Arts

Album Cover for “West” by Lucinda WilliamsLucinda Williams is one of my favorite singer/songwriters. I have had people over the years tell me that this is odd, or even wrong. Lucinda doesn’t deal with “kosher” themes. She deals with the nit and the grit. Her voice is gravely. She comes out of the dark heart of America. As I listen to her, I feel like I’m sitting in her apartment listening to her play as she sits on the edge of her bed. She is recounting the tragedies of daily life. It’s not happy.

I like her for the same reason I like Bob Dylan: grit, uniquely American imagery played in a uniquely American style, and a willingness to go where others are less-than-willing.

I actually don’t know anything about Lucinda Williams personally. I do know that at the Austin City Limits Music Festival a few years ago, she evidently lost a bit of decorum and spewed cusswords at her band and at the crowd. I don’t know if this is merely an unsubstantiated rumor, a failed memory, or reality.

On her most recent album, West, for the first time Lucinda appears…well…pretty. She’s certainly not dolled up like Lindsey Lohan or something. That would just be disgusting and wrong. Instead, she’s wearing an appropriate amount of make-up, a leather jacket with western flair, a straw hat in her hand, and her wind-blown hair is no longer shockingly white, but blonde. She looks like a woman who may have found some of the things she’s looking for.

Additionally, when listening to West, I think I hear a different side of Lucinda Williams. There seems to be less anger than her previous album (World Without Tears)—less of the aggravation or vitriol present in “Bleeding Fingers,” “Those Three Days,” or the apocalyptic anger of “Atonement.” Rather, this is a blend of tunes that feels more ethereal…at peace, yet unresolved.

I find one song interesting in particular: “Unsuffer Me.” Rob Bell in Velvet Elvis discusses how behind every truth is God. It doesn’t matter who it is uttering the truth, or where that truth is being uttered. Truth is truth. “Unsuffer Me” is one of those songs that has a truth in it. It’s lyric is every person’s story. So, I share some of it with you:

Unlock my love
And set me free
Come fill me up
With ecstasy
Surround my heartbeat
With your fingertips
Unbound my feet
Untie my wrists
Come into my world
Of loneliness
And wickedness
And bitterness
Unlock my love

Unsuffer me
Take away the pain
Unbruise, unbloody
Wash away the stain
Anoint my head
With your sweet kiss
My joy is dead
I long for bliss
I long for knowledge
Whisper in my ear
Undo my logic
Undo my fear
Unsuffer me

For me, this is exactly what I feel in my darker moments. This is what we all feel when we are mired in the abysmal depths of this world, longing for the wonder, longing for a way out, longing for purpose and meaning. This world can be an awful place, and we often find ourselves wanting to be “unsuffered.”

When I heard this song the first time, driving home from Border’s, I instantly thought of Jesus.

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