One song: Lucinda Williams' "Copenhagen"
It’s a song about wonder, about loss, about heartbreak — about a moment. But Lucinda Williams can tell the story of “Copenhagen,” a song from her return-to-form new album, “Blessed,” which comes out March 1 on Lost Highway, better than anyone, which she does in a series of perfectly crafted lines.
She hears bad news while standing outside in Copenhagen. It’s snowing hard, and the snowflakes seem to attack her, “covering my face in fine powdery mist and mixing in with my tears,” she sings in that heartbreakingly graceful voice, “and I’m 57 but I could be 7 years old ’cause I will never be able to comprehend the expansiveness of what I’ve just learned.”
It’s here that the chorus comes in, and the listener begins to understand: This is a death, and she’s just hearing of it, and attempting to capture one of those vivid moments that makes the world glow. Williams does her best to explain the expansiveness: “You have disappeared/You have been released/You are flecks of light/You are missed.” Or is it mist?
For Williams die-hards, “Copenhagen” is one of those gentle, mournful songs that the L.A.-based songwriter excels at, songs about lost souls living just outside the edges of redemption, struggling to live right but ultimately failing, as in “Little Angel, Little Brother” and “Drunken Angel.” On “Copenhagen,” as on much of “Blessed,” she connects words and ideas together delicately and with great precision, like she’s building a rose petal by petal, leaf by leaf. The album comes out March 1 on Lost Highway Records.
Photo: Lucinda Williams performing at the Wiltern in 2008. Credit. Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times