David McClister

Lucinda Williams’ new memoir, “Don’t Tell Anybody the Secrets I Told You” is out today.

Check out The New Yorker’s excerpt of a section from it on famed Arkansas poet Frank Stanford:


In my teen years, in the late nineteen-sixties, my father was adamant about cigarettes and sex. “I know a lot of teen-agers are having sex already, but if you hold off on having sex until you are eighteen, then we’ll get you the pill,” he said. “And don’t smoke cigarettes. They are bad for you.” We had a little deal, and I stuck to it. I didn’t have sex until I was eighteen. After I started the pill, though, I didn’t waste much time. Those were the days of free love. You’d just go and go and go until the bed broke or something. (The beds were cheap back then, at least the ones we were using.) I never did take to cigarettes, which I’m glad about, because not smoking has helped my singing voice mature. I don’t sound like I did when I was younger; it’s different, but just as good.

I’ve been called an “erotic” songwriter. I don’t disagree, but even though I had plenty of sex when I was younger, I was never promiscuous. The brain is the real erogenous zone, at least for me, so I have to connect with somebody intellectually and almost spiritually in order to be attracted to them physically, and that rarely happens immediately. I realized early in my adult life that talking—real, honest, substantive conversation—could be superhot, and it didn’t have to result in anybody taking their clothes off for it to be erotic in a lasting way. Very often a good conversation is more memorable than fucking.

As I was growing up, I began to be attracted to a certain kind of man, and I would maintain that kind of attraction for the rest of my life. The way I’ve often described this kind of man is “a poet on a motorcycle.” These were men who could think very deeply and have very deep feelings, but who also had a kind of blue-collar, roughneck quality to them. For me, the epitome of this kind of man was the poet Frank Stanford.

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