View Full Version : Dar Williams

08-17-2010, 09:48 AM
needs a thread. Here it is!

08-17-2010, 01:56 PM
Dar really won me back with the last album. I thought My Bettter Self was an atrocious album; I can't even tell you why, but I despise it, right down to the cover art. Promised Land was, therefore, a surprising return to form IMHO. I'm looking forward to her retrospective (with new acoustic recordings of a dozen songs) coming out soon.

08-17-2010, 02:41 PM
I love Dar Williams, listened to her a lot in Junior High. I should check out some of her later work. I remember loving February, Mortal City, and I think every song on both albums I owned.

08-17-2010, 05:56 PM
I love Dar too. She just came through town maybe a month and a half ago & played some songs I hadn't given an ear too in a long time. She really nailed The Ocean and What do You Hear in These Sounds?, which has made me go back and listen to things other than my Best-of-Dar playlist (Spring Street, Babysitter, Christians & the Pagans, etc.).

Snow White
08-17-2010, 06:09 PM
Dar Williams definitely needs her own thread :)

Just found out that I'm missing her by one day in Philly. Had I known, I would have hung around to see her tomorrow. Alas.

(I'm excited to hear about the retrospective album!)

Peter Z
09-02-2010, 03:54 PM
I've had the chance to open for Dar Williams with the rest of my college a cappella group, and have met her quite a few times, and she really couldn't be nicer. She is one of the kindest, sweetest and most genuine artists I've ever had the privilege of knowing.

I'm excited for "Many Great Companions" in October, and hoping to catch her again in SF during her tour. She was here last month in Berkeley but the show was competely sold out!

This is a live version of "Midnight Radio," which is one of my favorite recordings she's made in the past 10 years. It's so good!!


09-02-2010, 04:58 PM
Dar is one of my all time favourite musicians/people on the face of the planet. I listen to her voice and it takes me right back to when I first heard her, around the time of the first Lilith Fair tour, and cried like an idiot. (in a good way, of course!) :)

When The Green World came out, I was hooked. What a perfect album! "After All" is one of the best songs I've ever heard...

09-11-2010, 01:03 AM
I adore Dar Williams! I go through phases of listening to her music a lot & then not at all, but whenever I start listening to her songs again I wonder why I stopped...

09-13-2010, 03:13 PM
Dar is playing at the magnificent Union Chapel in London on the 5th December. Click! ( http://www.ents24.com/web/artist/43092/Dar_Williams.html)

That will be so fab!

Peter Z
09-15-2010, 05:44 AM
You can listen to the new acoustic version of As Cool as I Am, from the upcoming collection Many Great Companions:


09-22-2010, 06:56 PM
I had no idea about Many Great Companions. What a pleasant surprise.
I am really feeling her song "are you out there". I just love her politics, her everything. She just seems like a true folk singer through and through.

09-22-2010, 07:20 PM
Looks like, according to amazon, Sean and Sara Watkins (of Nickel Creek) help out on a couple of the reworked songs. Very cool.

09-22-2010, 09:06 PM
Never liked this song(As Cool As I Am), but this new acoustic version really changes it for the better. I also preferred acoustic Dar to band Dar. When i watched her perform at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago a few years back she was solo and it was her best performance to date.
Wonder why she did not include Are You Out There in the Acoustic form on new album? would like to have that one as an official release.

02-17-2011, 05:28 AM
I just got and watched (a couple times) her live concert DVD. Live from Bearsville Theater. What is that song she is humming during the title menu? I love it. Very pretty.

It is a great dvd. The first song, tho. She was scared shitless. I think the whole "this is for my dvd" thing got to her.. and then she started to relax.

Peter Z
02-17-2011, 05:59 PM
Live from Bearsville Theater is a great DVD. I have the audio on my iPod too, and that's always fun to listen to.

Seeing her live is really essential to getting Dar, I think. She's an amazing storyteller, both in dialogue and in song.

02-25-2011, 10:41 PM
From the DVD there is a song that was new to me that just.. I can't seem to stop thinking about and humming. Spring Street. So, I looked up some more live performances of it on youtube and I came across a video that has me asking questions that maybe someone on here can answer. Question 1 In this video, she says something about writing this song to remember not to sell her soul.

Was Dar being offered deals from some of the major labels? Is that what she means? Which leads in to Question 2 What is the significance of Spring Street?
I noticed there are a lot of songs by other artists called Spring Street. I listened to some of them and I get the since Spring Street is some artistic hotspot in some city. I looked up Spring Street on google and wikipedia. I found out there is a Spring Street in San Francisco. But Dar is an eastcoast girl. There is a Spring Street in Manhatten but I understand it is a subway station line, mainly.
Question 3 Back to the video. I have blasted the audio on many different computers with loud speakers, soft speakers, head phones.. and I can't tell what the song the woman with the 11-year-old daughter requested that Dar said was from a casette that she hasn't performed in 20 years. Can any of you make out what she asked for?

Peter Z
02-27-2011, 06:34 PM
This may make more sense... it comes from an interview she did back in 2000 (http://www.bostonphoenix.com/archive/music/00/09/14/DAR_WILLIAMS.html). I love this article-- hope you do as well! And by the way-- Spring Street is way more than a subway line in Manhattan. It's right in the heart of SoHo, and a huge shopping / fashion / art area. I used to work at an art gallery there (on Spring Street, actually!) and this song would always play through my head.....


"Omigosh, I'll show you the apartment that inspired the song," Williams says. "Spring Street," one of the lively cautionary tales on her epiphany-filled new The Green World (Razor & Tie), was stimulated by the singer/songwriter's first surge of commercial success. Her two preceding albums, 1996's Mortal City and 1997's End of the Summer, had sold a folk-shocking 150,000 copies for the indie Razor & Tie label. A SoHo pied terre, Williams thought, would've been a nice complement to her digs in Northampton, where she lived for eight years until this summer.

"The royalty checks had started coming in, and I thought, `I'm really wealthy,' " she jokes, mocking her own navet. "I showed the apartment to somebody and they said, `You're thinking of moving there? You could never afford it!' " But it wouldn't be a Dar Williams song if the thought process stopped there. Williams, who's hyper-analytical of herself and everything around her, realized how close she had come to betraying her authenticity by coveting that SoHo apartment. "The song is scary because, basically, I thought I could replace coolness with the commodity of coolness." When I point out with near-airhead redundancy that SoHo has long symbolized the "commodity of coolness," she pauses for a half-beat of effect. "Well, yeah. That's why I called the song `Spring Street.' Instead of `Dar.' It's about fear of self-commodification."

02-28-2011, 05:46 PM
Peter Z, Bless you, sir!

I typed soho and spring street and google lit-up. What a cool place to work. Very lucky guy :)

01-13-2012, 03:56 PM
Oh, this sounds like it could be really good! April 17 release date.

Press release: Singer-songwriter Dar Williams is set to release her ninth studio album, In The Time Of Gods, April 17 via Razor and Tie. Dar's first album of original material in four years is produced by Kevin Killen (who has worked with such giants as U2, Elvis Costello, and Peter Gabriel), and features special guests Shawn Colvin and Larry Campbell, and a remarkable set of musicians including Charley Drayton, Gerry Leonard, and Rob Hyman. Williams presents 10 original compositions on In The Time Of Gods, which explores many of today's most challenging social issues told against the parables of Greek mythology. The inimitable collection of songs includes some of the richest and most evocative writing of Williams' career.

In The Time Of Gods covers many relevant topics such as retaining one's moral compass, our personal responsibility in aiding to change the world, the politics of power, and following a guiding light in the midst of chaos. The ceaseless turmoil in the world today is of great concern to Williams who is also a wife, mother and community activist. Williams was inspired to return to the stories she was told as a child to see if the gods of the Parthenon would speak to her while penning songs for her latest release. As it turned out, these stories and characters helped her make sense of our eccentric world and shaped the scope of the album. Standout tracks on In The Time Of Gods include the album opener "I Am The One Who Will Remember Everything," "I Have Been Around The World," "Crystal Creek," "Summer Child," and "You Will Ride With Me Tonight."

"It was very intriguing to work with Kevin Killen and the musicians he handpicked for my latest album," says Williams. "Kevin really was the alchemist behind the record. Ron Hyman and I co-wrote four songs, so a lot of the album is based around our relationship. There really is an epic setting for the album, I'm at a point in my life where I feel like people are flying higher and falling harder. There is a grown up fairytale feeling to In The Time Of Gods. It sparkles with simple and beautiful layers, and it's muscular in places and very lyrical in others. It was a great service to my storytelling to have these fine musicians giving the arrangements so much strength and sophistication."

The great achievement of Williams' new album is it gracefully reminds us that wherever we are, whenever it may be, we are always living In the Time of the Gods. It's not to say we are living in 400 BC Greece, but rather, as Williams notes, "We are evolving in time. And that's what you're allowed to do with mythology - let it evolve and show who your Parthenon is now." Her latest narratives borrow from classic Greek archetypes, but she beautifully shows how flexible and expansive they are by easefully weaving in her own personal experiences and insights. Williams portrays a spellbinding contemporary interpretation of these classic ancient themes.

One of the most lauded singer-songwriters of her generation, Dar Williams has been captivating audiences with her sheer elegance and honesty in her folk-pop songwriting since the early '90s. As documented on her last album, the 2010 two-disc retrospective Many Great Companions, Williams' growth as an individual over her almost two-decade-long career has gone hand-in-hand with her evolution as an artist. She has toured with such distinguished artists as Joan Baez, Patty Griffin, Ani DiFranco, and Shawn Colvin, and recently became a regular contributor to the Huffington Post's Green Blog. A dedicated environmentalist, Williams toured throughout the northeast visiting children's camps and planting bee gardens in summer 2011.

Williams has released one live album - Out There Live (2001); seven studio albums - The Honesty Room (1993), Mortal City (1996), End of the Summer (1997), The Green World (2000), The Beauty of the Rain (2003), My Better Self (2005), and Promised Land (2008); one live DVD - Live at Bearsville Theater (2007); and Many Great Companions (2010). In 1995, two years after self-releasing The Honesty Room, she signed with Razor & Tie Entertainment, beginning a relationship now in its 16th year.

In The Time Of Gods Track Listing:
1) I Am The One Who Will Remember Everything
2) This Earth
3) I Have Been Around The World
4) The Light And The Sea
5) You Will Ride With Me Tonight
6) Crystal Creek
7) Summer Child
8) I Will Free Myself
9) Write This Number Down
10) Storm King


Peter Z
01-13-2012, 05:53 PM
Nick, not only does it sound good... It IS really good. :) I think you'll be pleasantly surprised!

01-13-2012, 05:59 PM
Sounds good! I find Dar's output to be very variable but am excited about this. Hope she comes to the UK to support as she's always great live.

01-13-2012, 06:51 PM
Nick, not only does it sound good... It IS really good. :) I think you'll be pleasantly surprised!

Good to hear! As I probably mentioned earlier in this thread, I hated My Better Self, and had grown off of Dar quite a bit in general. But I really unexpectedly adored Promised Land (Book Of Love, Holly Tree - so good!) and cannot wait for this new one. Sounds much more in the vein of Promised Land, or at least this track does. Is the whole thing kind of generally like this one?

01-13-2012, 07:58 PM
I am so excited!!! Nick, Peter, Beanstew.. please keep me/us updated on any information, interviews, performances for this new album :)

I too was pleasantly surprised by "Promise Land" - I wasn't feeling "It's Alright" for the longest time. They sent that song off to be the first single. But gradually, I kinda love what it is = a pop song, very much a radio friendly track, that talks about a person coming to a new level of consciousness by viewing different works of art, cities, and culture. Personal favorites of mine are "The Business of Things" "The Tide Falls Away" "You Are Everyone" "Buzzer" and "Go to The Woods." I really love what she did with "Go to The Woods," and I have never heard an environmental song approached in that kinda playful way.. where all those scary stories we have all heard of the woods are nothing in comparison with the truth that the woods are disappearing.

Lately, the three Dar Williams' songs I am obsessed with are "I'll miss you till I meet you," "Are You Out There?" There's so much to see through like our parents do more drugs than we do - lol and "You're Aging Well"

04-13-2012, 10:19 PM

and a premier of her new song at the Grammy.com site

"You Ride with me Tonight"

Peter Z
04-13-2012, 11:03 PM
If anyone's interested, I recently published an interview I did with Dar about the new album, In The Time of Gods.

Here's the link, but I'll post it under spoilers, too, if that's easier:

Surviving in the music industry beyond one’s sophomore album is a feat in and of itself; surviving for over twenty years and continuing to make exciting, vivid new music is an achievement very few can claim. One of those singer-songwriters, however, is Dar Williams, who rose to popularity among the Lilith Fair generation of the mid-to-late 1990s. But while the majority of those female rockers enjoyed sizable commercial success and some hit singles, Dar has always flown slightly under the radar. But this hasn’t been detrimental to her career; rather, it’s allowed her the chance to work with some amazing artists, record songs that she wanted to hear (instead of what fit on radio), and most of all build a career in the grassroots aesthetic, all based on her strength as a live performer. She’s dynamic, spirited and engaged, and ultimately a poet with a very active social conscience.

Dar Williams is set to release her ninth studio album In The Time of Gods later this month via Razor & Tie, but Glide Magazine recently had the pleasure of talking with Dar about everything from recording the album to her time touring with Joan Osborne, her passion for environmental awareness, the resurgence of vinyl and why Cry Cry Cry is pretty much done forever.


It’s been four years since your last studio record Promised Land, and two since the major career retrospective you did (Many Great Companions). Will you talk to me about your writing process-- are you constantly writing, keeping a journal of ideas? Do you write specifically for a project? How do you know when a new album is not only on the horizon but palpable?

With this new one, I had gotten really involved and interested with this Huffington Post column that I was writing, and that was around the spring of 2010, and I’d written a children’s musical and writing some other things at the time, so I just had a lot of ideas and was spreading myself pretty wide with those projects, but was doing so quite happily. But amidst that, I was collecting ideas for this new record, but what ended up really helping the project was having a concept, which was pretty new for me.

The concept began when I was in Canada, and there was a very beautiful early evening light over snow, with bare trees and silver sky creating this really intense tableau, and I was driving but it seemed like a very American opera set for an amazing Greek myth that was going to be reinterpreted in some grand theater vision. So, when you see a theater set, especially as a writer, you want to put characters in it, and I imagined this biker gong along this tableau, and then I thought, “Well, what if the biker is Hermes-- the Messenger of the Dead?” And then I imagined he had this woman on his bike who had really given up on herself-- she’s in her 50’s or 60’s, but she feels like she’s faded from the world, so she makes the phone call to Hermes to come pick her up and take her to Hades.

Hermes is also the God of travelers, thieves-- people who live by their wits. And he is enchanted by her, and turns to her and says, “I really love worldly people, and you haven’t disappeared to me-- you seem very strong and be of this group of travelers who are inspirational to me, so I’m going to turn my bike around and seduce you.” So that was the first song that came from this project. And then I had this sort of horribly devious and funny thought about what would piss off my record company the most-- how about writing a whole album about Greek myths? (laughs)

And that’s when I really started to think about the different stories I’d grown up with, and that they were still very alive for me. So, in my travels I began to see the world through the eyes of these Greek myths, so coming into Silicon Valley, for example, is very much the song “This Earth,” with this guy tinkering in his basement all the time with little robots as his friends, and he’s married to a beautiful woman for whom he makes beautiful things, but she’s never there and clearly he’s a fan of the Discovery Channel. He pines for her, but he also doesn’t understand her-- he likes his tinkering and blowing stuff up in the back yard. And specifically the story of Hephaestus, who is the God of artisans/blacksmiths and volcanoes, and he’s married to the Goddess of Beauty, and she literally is messing around with the God of War, whom she prefers, and so she’s disdainful of her basement-bound husband. It’s kind of like a children’s retelling of a very adult scenario, so that was my next song. And then one by one, they kept on springing up. So, I had this tow rope and concept that while I experimented allowed me to come back to it and gain momentum, which then accelerated a lot when I went into the studio and had to have something completed (laughs). So yeah, a lot at the end, too.

I find this album to be actually fairly experimental, which may sound odd to you but what I mean is it doesn’t exactly follow the traditional “Dar Williams songwriting approach” kind of method. There are stories on this record that are backed by instrumentation that I’m just really excited and surprised to hear from you. Was that a consideration going into recording In The Time of Gods?

That very much was the producer’s call, but the thing is I chose the producer to begin with. There are a lot of people who I was talking to about producing this record who wanted to fit it into a specific sound, and then Kevin Killen came along and said, “Let’s get so-and-so and then so-and-so to play on this,” and then when the record company came to me and said that they’d been hit hard by the economic downturn and therefore couldn’t offer me a big budget whatsoever, my good friend Rob Hyman, with whom I co-wrote four of the songs on this album, graciously offered us the use of his home studio, where we could stay and record for free. He even offered to play on the record for free. And you know, a lot of people would make that offer and it’d be a really awkward moment, but Rob is just such an amazing and inspirational guy to work with.

The median age of the people who play on the album is around 50, actually. They’re these guys who have done rock-and-roll professionally and really know their way around their instruments in this really incredible way. There’s a lot of professions where the term “seasoned” is a real detriment, but in rock-and-roll it’s for people who have developed great instincts and have a huge repertoire that they can saddle up. But then again, they have their own minds and they don’t really consult with you that much. They hear something and they follow that path, and you just have to get out of the way.

So, I knew who Kevin was bringing in, and I knew that he really wanted to concentrate on that and not just bring in ten million people. He really wanted it to sound like a band on the stage.

You usually have a really remarkable list of guest artists who play on your records, like Ani DiFranco on “Comfortably Numb,” Alison Krauss, John Popper, Suzanne Vega, etc. With this album, were you more focused on this band aesthetic? I know that Shawn Colvin sings on one of the songs.

Yes. She sings on “The Light and The Sea.” With this album, there really wasn’t as much harmony as there usually is. I’m friends with this lovely Broadway star-- Sherie Rene Scott-- and I really wanted to ask her to sing on this album. I thought it’d be fun to have her break genre a little bit. She's one of those actresses who you just sense has every sense open all the time, because that's just her craft. And there was this one song that I ended up changing the whole feel of it, and it just wasn't a harmony song anymore and one by one the doors closed—we were like we should have a person do this, we should have this guest do this, and we just decided to go with lean.

There was one song were I really wanted to have another voice, and so I asked Shawn. She was lovely, and fit it into her very busy schedule. And at the end of the day, it turned out that the line itself sounded better with three voices instead of just two. She didn't step out into the song as much as I had wanted her to so I could feature her, but it just didn't make sense and she thought so too. So, it didn't have that sound like with Mary Chapin Carpenter in “The One Who Knows,” where I called her up to ask her if I could put the harmony louder than the melody because I loved it so much (laughs).

Kevin had to go onto another project quickly after this, so there was the decision that we made to do it in one swoop, and to do it lean and focused. And if you listen to the first song, “I Am The One Who Will Remember Everything,” you realize that it’s very much live. The whole album has a drive to it because of the parameters, and then the experience of the musicians really brought what we needed to take it there.

There is one song called “Crystal Creek,” and there’s a B part of the verse before the chorus, and then Jerry Leonard, who is a big old pro, played something that had a real lightness to it, with a fairly pop sensibility, and I turned to him and I said that the song was pretty serious actually, and that the woman in the song was saying that she actually killed this guy-- that she wrapped him in a deer skin and he was then killed by his own hunting party. So, I suggested we use something that was a bit more meditative, nothing too sinister, but definitely with more weight to it. And then he did this thing right away, where he translated exactly what I meant, and I couldn’t believe it. It needed the littlest touch, or else it’d be overblown, and he responded beautifully. That’s what comes from musicians who are open like that. So, at the end of the day, we looked at each other and just said, “We’re done.”

Now when you released Promised Land, you launched the first tour with a larger band onstage than your usual solo or duo configuration. Will you be doing that again with this album?

Oh, I wish! (laughs) It’s a dream, of course, but these guys who played on the album are real veterans of the scene, and if I were to go after Charlie Drayton, for example, I’m sure David Bowie would beat me to the punch. (laughs)

And really, for this round of touring we’re still kind of deciding what we want to do. We made the decision early on, though, to play smaller rooms, sometimes with multiple nights, rather than play much larger venues. I’m doing Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, which is a delightfully funky kind of room. So, it’s a lot of places I’m really excited to play, personally. Even though there’s a lean, metallic quality to the album, our performance value is economical, warm, intimate sort of thing.

There was this one tour, probably six years back or so, where we were playing the sort of big, cavernous, nail-bitingly large rooms and they were half-empty each night, and it was so sudden and everything and it really had to do with the economy and the first music industry recession with digital piracy, so we started looking at this new model of coming back to town and playing a somewhat smaller venue and if it sells out doing two shows instead. We first really tried it out in Atlanta, at Eddie’s Attic, and we just had a great time. I mean, in Atlanta, it’s really the gay mecca of the Southeast, so that brings a fantastic audience, but you also have a bunch of preppy Atlantic couples who are totally couple, so they’d come in their ironed jeans and everything, but by the end of the night everyone got really rowdy, were enjoying each others’ company and just having a blast. So, that made me realize that there really is something to that intimate connection with the audience that just makes the whole thing much more memorable and exciting for me as a performer.

Speaking of live shows, the last time I saw you was in Napa, CA, when you played the Opera House with Joan Osborne.

Right! That’s where I debuted the first song from the new album, too.

The song “I Am The One Who Will Remember Everything,” right?

Yeah! And people were coming up to me afterwards and talking about it and saying things like, “Wow. That song was harsh!” And it really took me aback, because I was thinking, “Really?! I didn’t think it was harsh!” And actually, that’s the only time I performed it that tour.

It’s a pretty heady song. The subject matter definitely isn’t the lightest of sorts, for sure. I assume words like “zealotry” and “refugee” are ones that people may pick up on as “harsh,” I guess.

Yeah, definitely. And also, having taken the stage after Joan, I’m sure a few people were tipsy, too. But that Opera House was so beautiful, and the crowd was very “sophisticated,” unlike some other places I’ve done some of the new work, so they looked at me and said, “You know, it’s cool, but it’s not really exactly what we came for.” It was really interesting having that reaction, but I think it came a lot from the double-billing with Joan, because we are so different.

Yeah-- you two have very different approaches to songwriting and performing. She really focused on the songs with very little talking in between, and audience banter and story-telling for you is a major part of your stage presence.

It was a great tour for both of us. We both missed our kids and were able to talk about what it was like to be in the business for twenty years-- all the ups and downs, and Lilith Fair being all women, but 15 years ago, and then we’d go and get lunch and there would be a little bit of politics, and it was pretty much the perfect tour. Also, I think we both enjoyed the contrast between us-- you don’t really want to be so close to someone so you’re always being compared side-by-side in a competitive sense. And thankfully, there’s not really an opportunity to compete with Joan, so it just turned out really well. She’s got a voice that is just unbelievable. I write songs that are very individual to me, and so to hear her voice and its take on some other standards and covers was really intriguing for me.

Joan Osborne has had a major commercial breakthrough, albeit in the mid-1990s, with the song “One of Us,” and so because of that there is a point to which she’s held to that standard, and one where she pretty much must feel beholden to play that song every night. With you, you have definitely had plenty of “hits,” but there’s not that one discreet song that hit the zeitgeist so hard that you became part of the 90’s female folk/pop radio world, so you have a bit more flexibility in terms of a live show.

I made a joke once about singing with her, because we did that every night of the tour-- we’d come on stage for a song or two during each other’s set, and so I made a joke that I would sing “One of Us.” And laughed and said, “Oh, by ALL means!” And that was the only time I saw her make the slightest nod to fatigue with the song. She really pours herself 110% into “One of Us” night after night, and it’s a pretty wide open song, so she’s been able to find many different ways to approach it and relate to it over the years.

But you’re right, definitely. I have the luxury of letting “Babysitter” sit in another room, as it were, if I’m not feeling it, and the same with songs like “When I Was a Boy,” “Iowa” and “As Cool As I Am.” It’s a nice luxury to have a hit, absolutely, but when you have one you can definitely get a bit pigeon-holed.

But there’s also another side to it where you can play 100 shows a year and sell out a majority of them without worrying about over-saturating your audiences, and that’s a completely different type of success that many of the 1990’s Lilith Fair female singer-songwriters don’t have.

I definitely evolved as a live performer rather than a studio musician. And you’re right-- they’re very different sides of the coin. But then she turned to me once and talking about raising kids while on the road, and she said that while it’s not a conventional way of parenting by any means, her daughter has played in playgrounds on three continents. I’ve played on three continents, but just barely. (laughs) I don’t have major international success, but I have grown an audience in North America over the past twenty years, so I feel like every time I go to a different town, there’s a different iteration of “home” for me. There’s a lot of geographical relationships, of course, but human ones have also grown over that time as well, and I’m very grateful that people have stuck with me.

Also to step back a little, the music business suffered two recessions over the past decade: its own recession from the advent of digital media and the death of the major label, and the country-wide recession from 2008 onward. But, it doesn’t feel like everything’s plateaued, and when you build a live following from that sort of grassroots origin, you’re able to withstand a lot of those economic pressures from the business-- from the outside in. And sure, maybe I’m not playing 3,000 seat theaters anymore, but I’m still playing and people are still coming, and so there’s a lot to be thankful for there.

I also find from my end of things, with the resurgence of vinyl, it’s gotten people more aware of value in relation to music again. And value is usually tied to a financial contribution of some sort, so spending $25 on a record they really like, they end up having a relationship with that record in a way that maybe they didn’t-- and probably they haven’t-- if they had just downloaded it, even legally on iTunes.

I need to make a joke quickly about vinyl, by the way, because the conventional 33 record cover was the prototype of virtual reality (laughs). It’s as close to 3D interaction as you could get as a kid, as you stared at the Beatles pictures, cross-eyed or not, while you sat on the floor next to the record player.

And that’s a wonderful observation, and I think you’re right. It puts so much more attention to the objecthood of music, too, so that when you put on a record, you’re not just putting on music but an actual object itself, and that that’s both a messenger and an artifact. And then there’s the argument for the sound quality of vinyl as well.

There’s an excitement and thrill of holding something in your hand, building anticipation. The tangible reality of music with vinyl is really vivid and compelling. But will vinyl save the music business? I think that may be a pretty grand pronouncement, but it’s definitely had some interesting, and I think positive, effects.

But, you know, instilling that ethic is so vital. And the ethical question here is really, “What is music worth?” The question absolutely has to be posed and raised to someone for them to answer and figure out their own stance on the issue. Because as a consumer of music, you’re really making a statement, even a political one, with the ways in which you purchase-- or don’t purchase-- music. So, there are some who will download, some who will get it off Amazon, or a bunch of others who will hold off on buying it from Amazon and wait until my show to buy the record(s) because they know I’ll get $3 more that way.

But really, the whole point of the debate of how you support your artists is instilling this ethical question of worth.

And then there’s the ethical question about vinyl’s environmental impact, from a production point of view.

You want to hear something horrible? I live in a house, I have a car, so I know I’m not the most blameless, but I try to be the most green suburbanite I can possibly be, from gardening, composting, carpooling, using alternative energy sources-- it’s really important to me. I write a column for The Huffington Post as well about green living and energy consumption, but I really think that art gets an “Opt Out.” (laughs) Art just has a “pass,” which I realize is incredibly self-indulgent, but while there’s a lot of really high-maintenance art exhibits made from pristine, virgin materials, I just think that’s well, it’s OK. If we’re going to put our indulgence somewhere, I think it should be with art.

Also, there’s the democratic piece where we voluntarily compensate musicians, and we see artists as a service that’s valuable, then it also brings up the question of what money is, and what currency holds in society. So, you’re right-- I think it’s a good teaching tool. Also, people like stuff, and so sometimes I just think let people have their stuff. (laughs)

Alright, sadly we have to wrap it up, but before we do I have one last question: any chance for a Cry Cry Cry reunion? People want to know!

(laughs) Oh goodness. Well, you know, it really comes down to our lives and schedules and such, and it’s just really tough. Richard [Shindell] is down in Buenos Aires, and that’s a real thing! I never, ever see him, and I always think I’m going to see him, since I run into just about everybody at some point-- a festival, show, whatever-- but I never see him, and haven’t for about ten years. Lucy [Kaplansky] and I do see each other, but that’s only two of us. And you know, I love when other people collaborate-- it makes you a better musician to work with others-- and then there’s Red Horse, which Lucy is in with John Gorka and Eliza Gilkyson. So, sadly I don’t think so. But, maybe, if there’s some big terrible disaster that needs a fundraiser, then maybe. But, yeah. (laughs)

04-13-2012, 11:05 PM
^I'm going to read that in a few. We are so lucky to have you on unf. You always interview the people I like most.

04-16-2012, 09:46 PM
Dar Williams interview (http://www.americansongwriter.com/2012/04/dar-williams/)

“The love of writing songs is not a challenge,” says Dar Williams, who releases her ninth studio album, In The Time Of Gods, on April 17. “Okay, it’s a pain, but I still love it.” We asked Williams about her new album, the words and rhymes she tends to avoid, and how she got into the songwriting game to begin with.

Shawn Colvin and Larry Campbell guest on this album. What was it like working with them?

Shawn, alas, was a long distance romance, but our email notes back and forth were full of hugs and kisses, and I was thrilled to have her on the record. Not only was I with Larry in the studio, I brought my husband with me. Even the outtakes were gorgeous. Larry said, “I can do one more pass of this if you’d like,” and I was going to say, “No, no, we’ve definitely got it,” but my husband whispered, “Tell him to do it.” He didn’t want it to end. And then Larry pulled out this monster solo and that’s what we used. We felt completely high when we walked out of the studio.

What’s the significance of the album title?

We live in a time of precipitous ups and downs right now. The people on top fall to the bottom, those one the bottom are rising up, we’ve got massive weather events, and throughout it all, we have people railing away about what we have to do (drill more, plant tomatoes, build an ark, etc.). The album’s themes came from Greek mythology, which made room for massive chaos while still exalting the pillars of civilization. That’s how I feel, like we’re the playthings of petty, angry gods, especially the ones that walk the Earth, but that the Parthenon is still standing on the hill, surrounded by olive trees. Perhaps less virgins.

Is it easier, or harder to write songs, the more you write?

Great question! Both. My career, built on writing songs, and my household, fueled by income from writing songs, keep me busy, which makes it harder to write songs. But I know more than ever what I have to do: find inspiration and find the time to piece ideas together and figure out how to phrase and rhyme some image that’s caught in my mind, like an invisible Zeppelin or a carpet of thorns. Market of horns? Darkness that forms? This all takes time, and that’s the challenge. The love of writing songs is not a challenge. Okay, it’s a pain, but I still love it.

What’s a song of yours that really touched people?

The most surprising one was called “After All”, about my return from clinical depression. I describe depression as “a winter machine that you go through and then, you catch your breath and winter starts again.” It actually helped me to hear how many people could relate to this rock bottom time and then to the footholds and insights that brought me up to safety. I’d quote more of my song, but is that one of those narcissism flags, like referring to yourself in the third person?

When did you start writing songs? Were they good right away, or did that come later?

My songs were chaotic and scattered. They made perfect sense to me, but there was one boyfriend who recommended that I find an axis, a core, to the song, and that once that was in place, I could let my freak metaphors fly. Then he dumped me, and I spent the next year sitting on my futon, lonely, but following his advice. And that was my breakout CD, as it were, The Honesty Room.

What’s a lyric on In The Time Of Gods you’re especially proud of?

“In our progress and our industry, May we grow better still.” That is simple, but it is the message of the album. We can’t help being a lot of busy bees, but we can wish to be a more harmonious hive. I also spent a long time on the phrase “Silver webs with sanded grain That catch and hold real drops of rain.” It describes the workmanship of a very lonely, awkward tinkerer who finds joy in creating beautiful, delicate things.

Are there any words you love, or hate?

There are so many wonderfully descriptive, mellifluous words, like the word mellifluous. I love these words, like bombastic, ambivalent, and sardonic. I have learned to fear the word cup. It only rhymes with up. So look out. Also, not a big fan of the change/rearrange rhyme.

What’s your typical approach to songwriting? Do you revise a lot, or do you like to write automatically?

I revise and revise and suddenly, it’s done. It’s done when it doesn’t sound revised.

What sort of things inspire you to write?

I wish I knew!! I am very moved by behavior that surprises us, like when I find myself coveting something in a strangely petty way, or when I see a person stand up at a town meeting and make a passionate declaration about solar panels, even though this person has a phobia of public speaking. It can be “good” or “bad. It’s just the absolute value of wanting something.

What’s the last song you wrote?

I’ve been working on a song about these kids I saw jumping from high rocks into a river in northern Vermont. When these kids start having jobs in this economy, they realize that they’re not valued for their bravery (jumping), it’s for their blind faith (jumping). It’s called “Jumping in the Mad River.”

Who are your songwriting heroes?

Paul Simon has always been my hero. He hits so hard with a lyric, then gives it more power by using a vernacular phrase, like “These are the days of lasers in the jungle, lasers in the jungle somewhere.” The word somewhere gives me such a sense of the distance between the narrator and what he’s singing about. So brilliant.

Who’s an underrated songwriter in your opinion?


What do you consider to be the perfect song (written by somebody else)?

“Cactus,” by Ferron.

Still need to pick her new one up!

04-17-2012, 12:43 AM
Stream the new record:


04-17-2012, 02:23 AM
I think this one is about Artemis.


Anyone know what brand of guitar this is? I like it. I like the look of the head.. tuning pegs.

04-17-2012, 02:40 AM
Also... anyone know which God/Goddess(s/es) in Greek Mythology are associated with each song? Some are more spelled out than others.. the link that Andyland gave to stream is new to me. So I am still trying to figure the songs out.

04-17-2012, 02:54 AM
1.) I am the one who will remember everything - ??? I have no idea.. Ares maybe? Because of war references?
2.) This Earth - Hephaestus and Aphrodite.. pretty sure.
3.) I have been around the world - Hera I think.?. This is about Dar as a wife.
4.) The light and the sea - Poseidon, right?
5.) You will ride with me tonight - Hermes, right?
6.) Crystal Creek - I am sure it is Artemis.
7.) Summer Child - I think Demeter or maybe this is Apollo??
8.) I will free myself - ??? Can't decide if this is Apollo or Hera maybe even Demeter?
9.) Write this number down - Athena
10.) Storm King - Zeus/Pete Seeger

Peter Z
04-17-2012, 04:49 AM
I think "I Am The One Who Will Remember Everything" was a made up God/Goddess.... If I remember correctly she said that it's a big confluence of all the things discussed on the album, so it's sort of a catch-all fictional character

04-17-2012, 04:32 PM
^Who do you think these songs are based on?
7.) Summer Child
8.) I will free myself

04-19-2012, 03:01 AM
I think "I Am The One Who Will Remember Everything" was a made up God/Goddess.... If I remember correctly she said that it's a big confluence of all the things discussed on the album, so it's sort of a catch-all fictional character

You're exactly right. She thought it was Hera the Goddess of Marriage.. but she thought Hera was the Goddess of the Family and in reality she hates families and children. She is a very jealous Goddess.

Dar said she used all the Gods of the Parthenon .. and their are 12 of them. And from the concert she posted on her fb I am still trying to figure them out.

Peter Z
04-19-2012, 05:55 PM
Today's Dar's birthday, and I am going to see her play the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley! I'm super excited (even though this probably makes it my 25th Dar show or something), but I think I'm going to request "Flinty Kind of Woman," just to hear her do that full-throated nervous laugh that I love so much :D And then I'll put in a request for O Canada Girls for good measure..... which she does know just will not play unless someone requests it.

Peter Z
04-20-2012, 02:53 AM
I LOVE FLINTY! That's my fave!!!

I love it, too!! I've only seen her play two verses of it before devolving into a fit of laughter. I really don't think I'll hear her play it again :(

04-20-2012, 05:33 AM
Edited list:
1.) I am the one who will remember everything - Made up Goddess - but originally was Hera - Goddess of Marriage
2.) This Earth - Hephaestus, Aphrodite and Ares - 3 in 1
3.) I have been around the world - Vesta - Goddess of the Hearth
4.) The light and the sea - Poseidon - God of the Sea
5.) You will ride with me tonight - Hermes - God of Travelers and Thieves
6.) Crystal Creek - Artemis - Goddess of the Hunt
7.) Summer Child - Demeter - Goddess of the Harvest
8.) I will free myself - Dionysus - God of Wine and Indulgence
9.) Write this number down - Athena - Goddess of Wisdom
10.) Storm King - Zeus/Pete Seeger - King of the Gods and Lightning

04-20-2012, 02:44 PM
Flinty Kind Of Woman is one of the only tracks I listen to regularly from the Honesty Room; love it.

Oh Canada Girls is a great request too; I still try to track down the Green World special edition every now and then just to own it in CD quality, but no luck.

Has anyone ever gotten ahold of her early cassettes, I Have No History and All My Heroes Are Dead, in any form? I think I correctly remember her (or someone else?) offering copies/re-prints of some sort to anyone who contributed to a particular charity on her website back in the day, but I was a not quite financially independent middle schooler at that point haha... Really wish that offer would pop up again in my adulthood! I'm sure she doesn't love them, since I don't know anyone who likes circulating their early material, so it's nice she gave people even that one chance back in the day. Curious to hear them, still, though.

04-20-2012, 03:46 PM
Having my first run through the album now; I don't know if anything is hitting me as much as my favorites on Promised Land (Holly Tree, Book Of Love) but there are some very nice moments. DEFINITELY not a return to the My Better Self sound, mercifully. And Write This Number Down (which is playing right now) is quite lovely. I'm sad that it's so short and almost over!

06-13-2012, 07:26 PM
The guy who produced Fiona Apple's new album is the primary drummer on Dar's latest release. Interesting thing I found while looking through Dar's CD booklet.

06-14-2012, 02:23 AM
I heard her play it once when I was a teenager. I forget where we saw her play (maybe New Haven?). She totally cracked up but my friends and I (being teens) sang along really loud and helped her remember the words. ;l

second'd on the flinty! I sing that song to flip my husband out. Sometimes i break a silence with the chorus, its super lol. It's pretty fun to sing.


08-07-2012, 06:53 AM
For the month of August you can download these albums:
Several of Dar's albums are on sale for only $5 for the entire month of August over at Amazon MP3:
Beauty of the Rain - http://bit.ly/DARRain
In The Time of Gods - http://amzn.to/DarAmznMP3
Mortal City - http://amzn.to/MORTALCITY
Promised Land -- http://bit.ly/DARPL

Beauty of the Rain is the only album I didn't have any kind of copy of.. so sweet.

10-21-2012, 09:26 PM
I saw Dar in London on Friday. It was a wonderful show with a good mix of songs from throughout her career and as always her between song chatting was charming and funny. She played in the Bush Hall which is one of my favourite London venues. It is a beautiful space and generally attracts a quiet and respectful audience. Here are a few videos I recorded:

Dar Williams - The Babysitter's Here (Bush Hall, London, 19/10/2012)

Dar Williams - I Will Free Myself (Bush Hall, London, 19/10/2012)

Dar Williams - February (Bush Hall, London, 19/10/2012)

It was great to get The Babysitter's Here as I love that song!

I still don't have the new album. I had hoped to pick up a signed copy at the gig but it finished late so I had to run off and catch my train. A pity as it's always great to have a chat with Dar as she is so lovely.

10-23-2012, 05:17 PM
Thanks for posting those. I love "I Will Free Myself." It is about Dionysus. Each song on the new album is written around a theme about a Greek God or Goddess ... are multiple Gods like "This Earth" about Aries, Aphrodite, and Hephaestus.

11-27-2012, 03:16 PM
This is a long shot but does anyone have an extra ticket for Dar's show at the Tin Angel this weekend? It appears to be sold out but it's an awesome venue and I'd hate to miss it.

07-23-2013, 04:01 AM
I love this Article (http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/love-and-the-apocalypse/defender-of-the-protest-song-why-we-need-the-independent-voices-that-define-political-music) from YesMagazine: Dar Williams: Why the Music of Protest Is Still Worth Defending

Can someone tell me what brand of Guitar it is she is holding on that site. The red guitar?

07-23-2013, 04:14 AM

07-24-2013, 03:44 AM
thank you

You must spread some Reputation around before giving it to c33 again.

07-24-2013, 04:31 AM
I might go see her this fall! I've seen her a ton of times but not lately, and I always feel like a better person when I do, even though I've heard some of her stories so very many times. The last tour I saw her on was Promised Land, but I don't think she played much from that album. Looks like she's been playing solo--I like her solo or with a band. The band can be good for things like turning As Cool As I Am into an epic jam.

03-06-2014, 10:45 AM
I saw Dar in London last night. It was a solo show and she was on great form with songs from throughout her career and the usual hilarious stories. I finally got to pick up a copy of In The Time Of Gods which Dar signed. She is so warm, kind and sweet. <3

I videoed a few songs.

Dar Williams - The Buzzer (Bush Hall, London, 05/03/2014)

Dar Williams - The Ocean (Bush Hall, London, 05/03/2014)

Dar Williams - Flinty Kind Of Woman (Bush Hall, London, 05/03/2014)

Dar Williams - You're Aging Well (Bush Hall, London, 05/03/2014)

Flinty Kind Of Woman and You're Aging Well were requests.

Yoga pose. :) <3


03-06-2014, 05:24 PM
She played Flinty and Buzzer! "You don't know how lucky you are!" -ocean.
Looks like you could have reached out and touched her you all were so close. Did she have a set list? Did she give it out to anyone?

Peter Z
03-06-2014, 05:32 PM
Personally, I'm excited for the In The Time Of Gods to be over... filling more than half of the set with those songs has gotten a little tedious... but there's still some really great songs on that record, like "Storm King" and "Crystal Creek" - but glad she's been pulling back a lot of staples she'd abandoned for a while ("Iowa," "Christians and the Pagans," "What Do You Hear In These Songs," etc.)

So glad you had fun beanstew!

Dar just finished a 3-show run in Philadelphia/NYC/Boston, where she played The Honesty Room in its entirety, so I bet that's why she went with "You're Aging Well" and "Flinty Kind of Woman" - she actually remembers the lyrics again! :)

And she's going to take that Honesty Room tour on the road... here's some upcoming dates:

5.1.14 - Barrymore Theatre - Madison, WI
5.2.14 - Dakota Jazz Club Restaurant - Minneapolis, MN
5.3.14 - Dakota Jazz Club Restaurant - Minneapolis, MN
6.4.14 - Great American Music Hall - San Francisco, CA
6.5.14 - City Winery - Napa, CA
6.6.14 - Alberta Rose Theatre - Portland, OR
6.7.14 - The Triple Door - Seattle, WA
6.14.14 – Old Town School of Folk – Chicago, IL
12.5 – 12.6.14 - Birchmere - Alexandria, VA (2 Nights. 1 Honesty Room)
12.13.14 – Calvin Theater – Northampton, MA

03-06-2014, 05:32 PM
She played Flinty and Buzzer! "You don't know how lucky you are!" -ocean.
Looks like you could have reached out and touched her you all were so close. Did she have a set list? Did she give it out to anyone?

Yeah, there's not normally a barrier at that venue so the front row of the audience is right against the stage. She didn't have a setlist. I would have tried to get it if she had. :)

We got Iowa last night Peter.

03-06-2014, 06:44 PM
Oops accidental post

03-07-2014, 02:07 AM
Personally, I'm excited for the In The Time Of Gods to be over... filling more than half of the set with those songs has gotten a little tedious... but there's still some really great songs on that record, like "Storm King" and "Crystal Creek" - but glad she's been pulling back a lot of staples she'd abandoned for a while ("Iowa," "Christians and the Pagans," "What Do You Hear In These Songs," etc.)

So glad you had fun beanstew!

Dar just finished a 3-show run in Philadelphia/NYC/Boston, where she played The Honesty Room in its entirety, so I bet that's why she went with "You're Aging Well" and "Flinty Kind of Woman" - she actually remembers the lyrics again! :)

And she's going to take that Honesty Room tour on the road... here's some upcoming dates:

5.1.14 - Barrymore Theatre - Madison, WI
5.2.14 - Dakota Jazz Club Restaurant - Minneapolis, MN
5.3.14 - Dakota Jazz Club Restaurant - Minneapolis, MN
6.4.14 - Great American Music Hall - San Francisco, CA
6.5.14 - City Winery - Napa, CA
6.6.14 - Alberta Rose Theatre - Portland, OR
6.7.14 - The Triple Door - Seattle, WA
6.14.14 – Old Town School of Folk – Chicago, IL
12.5 – 12.6.14 - Birchmere - Alexandria, VA (2 Nights. 1 Honesty Room)
12.13.14 – Calvin Theater – Northampton, MA

I kinda love In The Time of Gods. I have to confess it. It's just a really pretty album and I'll never get tired of Greek and Roman God Themes in almost any medium.
But I also kinda love The Green World and Beauty of the Rain which I know don't have the greatest appreciation.

I didn't know about these new American Tour Dates. The last time I checked her site they had just put up the Europe shows. So this is freakin cool. 6/14 in Chicago just in time for my birthday :)

Snow White
06-15-2014, 05:42 AM
I saw Dar play tonight in honor of The Honesty Room's twentieth anniversary. She was warm and funny, as always. I'm forever impressed by her openness to engaging the audience. The venue was tiny, too, allowing for a lot of back and forth.

Set list (no real surprises, given the show's premise):

Mercy of the Fallen
When I Was a Boy
Alleluia (She began her introduction to this song by saying "I knew this guy in high school who died early..." which resulted in this poor, excited woman shouting "woohoo!" once she figured out which song was coming. It also sounded like she was thrilled about this guy's death which cracked up the audience. Dar: "it's okay- I know what you meant.")
The Great Unknown
When Sal's Burned Down ("This is a song about a bar owned by the mob. No big backstory.")
The Babysitter's Here (Introduced by telling us about "futon number two" which her housemates purchased after a cat did "unspeakable things" to the first one. Apparently this second futon had "that good new futon smell" which was comforting to her. This made her think about another thing that comforted her: hippies. Thus, the inspiration for this song. Hmm. Okay Dar! ;l She continued to tell us if something was written on Futon One or Futon Two throughout the show)
You're Aging Well (dedicated to Joan Baez)
Traveling Again
In Love But Not at Peace (I was struck by how sad this song seemed to me as a teenager. But it's not sad at all...)
Mark Rothko Song (On growing up with a dad who worked at MOMA: "I saw one of Rothko's paintings and it looked lonely to me. I was allowed to say anything I wanted about paintings except 'a child could make that.' That wasn't okay." And "A friend was going out with this guy who didn't like Rothko because he couldn't paint trains. But Rothko gave us so much more than that. I said to my friend, "so you're dumping him, right? When are you dumping him?")
This is Not the House that Pain Built (The backstory to this song is lovely. Apparently she went to visit a friend who built an adobe house by herself. She said she immediately thought it was made out of anger because it looked so hard to build and she couldn't imagine anything else fueling that kind of labor. Then she saw concrete poured near the front door with handprints in it and the words "Love House." This made her re-imagine what could fuel such a grueling project. )
I Love, I Love (Which she originally wanted to sell to Enya. Ha.)
As Cool As I Am (with the whole audience singing along)
Iowa (she invited anyone to come up on stage to sing this with her. And apparently she was inspired to write it while driving to a show at my alma mater. Geeky fangirl moment.)

Flinty Kind of Woman (she was originally going to sing something from In The Time of Gods but the audience begged for this one.)

*Quotes are rough approximations, obviously.

01-25-2015, 01:22 AM
Dar posted on Facebook today that she just sang the last line of the last song on her new album, and they're getting it ready for an April release :)


01-25-2015, 01:24 AM
Great news!

01-25-2015, 01:27 AM

Snow White
01-25-2015, 01:37 AM
Okay. This year is officially trying to kill me.

01-25-2015, 01:45 AM
Yay! Was just checking her old fan page the other day to see if there was any album update and was sad to see it had closed in December. I was lukewarm on In The Time Of Gods but it had some great moments; really looking forward to seeing what she does this time out.

01-26-2015, 07:45 AM
It's about damn time!

01-30-2015, 05:35 PM
Been on a "The Beauty of the Rain" kick lately.
Have we ever done a top 10 for Dar?

01-30-2015, 05:58 PM
1 After All
2 Spring Street
3 Are You Out There?
4 I Have Lost My Dreams
5 February
6 This Earth
7 As Cool As I Am
8 Crystal Creek
9 You Are Everyone
10 When I Was A Boy
special mention.. The Babysitter's Here and You're Aging Well (Just haven't listened to those two in a while)

01-30-2015, 07:28 PM
I'm a notorious list cheater, so will do the following to avoid a Top 10 almost entirely from 2 albums.

Top 10 from Mortal City/End Of The Summer

1. Mortal City
2. The Ocean
3. Cool As I Am
4. The Blessings
5. February
6. Are You Out There
7. Bought And Sold
8. What Do You Hear In These Sounds?
9. It's A War In There
10. Better Things

Top 10 Best of The Rest

1. Write This Number Down
2. You Will Ride With Me Tonight
3. So Close To My Heart
4. Holly Tree
5. Book Of Love
6. Midnight Radio
7. Flinty Kind Of Woman
8. Playing To The Firmament
9. Spring Street
10. O Canada Girls

I still think Beauty Of The Rain/My Better Self was a pretty rough stretch - especially MBS - but I honestly believe Promised Land is her third best album; it was a really great return to form. Holly Tree is in my Top 5 overall for sure.

Snow White
01-30-2015, 11:22 PM
Oh, this is hard. From the top of my head and I can't be held to it.

1. Mortal City
2. The Blessings
3. February
4. Iowa
5. It Happens Everyday
6. I Had No Right
7. When I Was a Boy
8. Teenagers Kick Our Butts
9. Playing to the Firmament
10. Farewell to the Old Me

Also, I need to give a shout out to the story before "I Won't Be Your Yoko Ono" on Out There Live. Whenever conversations in college got absurdly obtuse, a friend and I would turn to each other and say "And then a yellow school bus passed. What is art? Who am I?"

01-30-2015, 11:33 PM
NO BUT I'LL START! I have to be real: Everything after End of the Summer is very hit or miss for me.

If I Wrote You
You're Aging Well
The Great Unknown
The Ocean
End of the Summer
Are You Out There
When I Was a Boy
As Cool as I Am
Mortal City

Honorable Mentions: Crystal Creek, Spring Street, everything else on Mortal City, Flinty Kind of Woman

I can't believe I left out this one!

I'm actually pretty surprised by how much I am into the more recent stuff. When I looked at which songs I played the most, I was like, really? Promise Land, I do believe, although, her best charting album (and one of my favorite album covers), was seen as a dip in quality, and I really think In the Time of Gods was a return to form. I just think Gods has the classic whisper-y, soft Dar vocals with a much better chord library, progressions and production. It's just really pretty.

The newest song she put out "Save the Monarch" (a stand alone single) I think a chunk if it's sales went to actually saving the Monarch.. but the song seems like it would have felt really well on Promise Land.. I just don't like it very much.

01-30-2015, 11:40 PM
I'm a notorious list cheater, so will do the following to avoid a Top 10 almost entirely from 2 albums.

Top 10 from Mortal City/End Of The Summer

1. Mortal City
2. The Ocean
3. Cool As I Am
4. The Blessings
5. February
6. Are You Out There
7. Bought And Sold
8. What Do You Hear In These Sounds?
9. It's A War In There
10. Better Things

Top 10 Best of The Rest

1. Write This Number Down
2. You Will Ride With Me Tonight
3. So Close To My Heart
4. Holly Tree
5. Book Of Love
6. Midnight Radio
7. Flinty Kind Of Woman
8. Playing To The Firmament
9. Spring Street
10. O Canada Girls

I still think Beauty Of The Rain/My Better Self was a pretty rough stretch - especially MBS - but I honestly believe Promised Land is her third best album; it was a really great return to form. Holly Tree is in my Top 5 overall for sure.
What do you hear in these sounds probably has my favorite lyric/image of any of her songs.. where she is talking about herself as being East Berlin and she could hear the songs and the shouting and see the fireworks... she knew there was happiness outside of the depression she was walled-up in.

Wow, I kind of love how much you like Promise Land. Maybe I was wrong in my earlier post with the points I made. I can hear Midnight Radio in my head right now. Love the shout outs she gives to the artists that influenced so many.

01-30-2015, 11:44 PM
Oh, this is hard. From the top of my head and I can't be held to it.

1. Mortal City
2. The Blessings
3. February
4. Iowa
5. It Happens Everyday
6. I Had No Right
7. When I Was a Boy
8. Teenagers Kick Our Butts
9. Playing to the Firmament
10. Farewell to the Old Me

Also, I need to give a shout out to the story before "I Won't Be Your Yoko Ono" on Out There Live. Whenever conversations in college got absurdly obtuse, a friend and I would turn to each other and say "And then a yellow school bus passed. What is art? Who am I?"

01-30-2015, 11:46 PM
No takers for After All? "A winter machine that you go through and then you catch your breath and winter starts again and everyone else is spring bound." God, I love that line.

Very happy that Are You Out There is as loved.

01-31-2015, 12:02 AM
I still think Beauty Of The Rain/My Better Self was a pretty rough stretch - especially MBS - but I honestly believe Promised Land is her third best album; it was a really great return to form. Holly Tree is in my Top 5 overall for sure.

Beauty of the Rain is a mixed bag for me, but the songs I love, I really love: Mercy of the Fallen, I Saw A Bird Fly Away, the title track, and her cover of Whispering Pines. I was never able to relate to songs like Fishing in the Morning.

My Better Self is probably my least favorite Dar record, but I still enjoy songs like Teen For God, You Rise And Meet The Day, and even though it might not be the most original, I'll Miss You Til I Meet You. I find that even her less great stuff ends up being more boring than actually bad.

(It's so hard to choose, but The Green World might be my favorite)

02-19-2015, 08:57 PM
New album is called Emerald :)

02-21-2015, 04:11 AM
Oh, wow. Any other news?

02-21-2015, 03:32 PM
New promo image:


02-24-2015, 08:05 PM
And it's official: http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/darwilliams

02-25-2015, 01:19 AM
Plant A Bee-Friendly Garden + Signed CD

I’ll come to your home, library, park, or school and happily plant a perennial flower garden (they come back year after year) that is pollinator-friendly. I’ll bring flowers and shovels (plus the new CD!) to make this happen. You need to provide a patch of dirt that’s ready to go and some helpers! It takes about 90 minutes and 100 square feet is the best size.

Oh my God that's awesome ;l

04-08-2015, 05:36 PM

A duet called "Slippery Slope" is now streaming.

04-30-2015, 02:26 AM
So I've listened to the album maybe four times now. This is a really fun, really beautiful, really heart-wrenching album at times. I think I love the songs that tell a story like "Empty Plane" which is Dar getting ready to go to the airport, get her stuff checked in, get some coffee, get on her plane. "It's funny how life at its best expands, Explodes and it over spends, But we try to fit it all in a grid. And we say it's the strength of our will."

My favorite songs so far are "Girl of the World" then "New York is a Harbor" then "Something to Get Through" then "FM Radio" then "Weight of the World."

Little mini review of the songs.
Something to Get Through - Goodness, does this song speak to me since I've moved into my new place and .. well that's all. It’s just something to get through. I bet you will be laughing with your friends in the light of a better day… just not today.

FM Radio - Just an extremely fun/dancy/anthem kinda song. "The boys are strutting like a foxxy lady so sing it loud in your hairbrush, baby.

Empty Plane - Just love these lyrics and that wafer-thin voice is so right for this song. "I asked the screener does my life have a destiny or just a destination. I thought I'd step away from my traveling. Have some time to connect the dots. See my life like a spiral. The DNA of my dreams and thoughts. And I believed in a legacy. But I stood in the jet bridge and the young man nodded and I looked at the name tag and said hello angel. It was all empty seats now. Nothing in the overhead. I sat in the front row and I woke up in my own bed.

Emerald - Not a song I have connected with, yet. I think it's really just a song she wrote about her uncertain future in this new phase of her career.. maybe? I dunno?

Slippery Slope - Again, not a song I have connected with yet. It has the catchiest opening line of any of these songs, probably.

Here Tonight - This is a pretty special song to me. Again, one of these storytelling songs. I fn love this chorus. It's about how we're all a little bit right and a little bit wrong and a little bit lost in romantic relationships.

Girl of the World - This is probably one of the best songs she's ever written about her life. I love when she starts asking if she deserves to be loved after the work she's done.

Mad River - Probably the only song I don't actually understand what is going on. Is it a song about the Vietnam War? She talks about men going up to the mountain never to be seen again.

Weight of the World - I love this song so much. It's about that person you know who always is there to take on problems and when you think they couldn't possibly take on any other people's shit they just keep on going even more. She sings It's the weight of the world. It wasn't really ever yours. You can't keep it inside,you got to let it free, because the weight of the world was never yours to keep.

Johnny Appleseed - Great Folksy song about the people who go out looking for the honey after they've killed all the bees.

New York is a Harbor - I think this is the most beautiful song she's ever sung. It's the first song I know of where it's just her voice and a piano. (Well, probably not the only one) But the piano is the only other instrument. These lyrics are just way too beautiful.. again, the whispery key she sustains is just so perfect. I think the song is about 5 minutes long but it feels like it just keeps going on and on. Oh, I can't wait to see how other's feel about this song?

It's just so wonderful how Dar always meets and goes past my expectations. She is one of my favorite lyricists. I wonder where she got that from? I'd love to read some of the stuff she's written that hasn't been put to music.

05-08-2015, 04:31 PM
The album is streaming on Yahoo:


05-27-2015, 10:09 AM
Did anyone else see Dar last night at the Jazz Club in Camden, London?

I had to leave early to catch a train and missed the encore. I'm interested to find out what she played.



05-24-2016, 10:10 PM

05-24-2016, 10:49 PM
Oooooooh must go!

05-25-2016, 04:38 AM
Just broke my fucking desk apart from the excitement of this! I kinda figured it was coming but actually seeing it...

05-25-2016, 12:20 PM
Reading through this thread, I need to get more Dar. I only have a few albums - End of The Summer, The Green World, Beauty of the Rain and Promised Land.

05-25-2016, 03:41 PM
Mortal City is an absolute must.

Has anyone seen info about what time these go on sale (website just says it's today)? I want to get a good seat for the first NYC show!

ETA: Lots coming up as for sale on her page right before noon, just not NYC yet.

05-25-2016, 11:34 PM
Reading through this thread, I need to get more Dar. I only have a few albums - End of The Summer, The Green World, Beauty of the Rain and Promised Land.
Go get MORTAL CITY right now!!!
The album is perfection. Pure perfection. Lyrically, nothing else has touched it. "February" on it's own is worth getting the album let alone "Ocean,' "Pompei," "Iowa." Musically, well, the way she composed the album.. chord progressions, etc... it's really diverse. "As Cool As I Am" is so much fun with the didgeridoo sound. "The Christians and the Pagans" is a fun song as well.. I play it around Christmastime, too. Although, it is so peppy I'd play it just to get in a good mood or to sustain a good mood.

The themes, like any of her recent albums, are all over the place to being very emotive and touching to being quirky and just funny. You're getting a good bang for your buck. Emerald and In The Time of Gods I think have that really cool diversity. Beauty of the Rain and The Green World have songs that I think link better and transition better into each other.. I love those albums.. but. She really has an incredible canon for a folk singer that has more times than not made her money touring with just her guitar and herself.

05-25-2016, 11:36 PM
This is a really good read from her Facebook Page today. Talks about making the album. Just a lot of littler things, most I didn't know about Mortal City.

When The Honesty Room came out in 1994, I left my three part time jobs for one touring life, writing songs on notepads and napkins as I went. I have clear memories of places where I wrote lyrics. My housemate Sarah Davis had said, "I think you should look at this story about an ice storm in Philadelphia. The whole city basically shut down, voluntarily, to help the hospitals keep running."
So I wrote half of the song, Mortal City, in Lisa Wittner's bathtub in Boulder.
I wrote a verse of As Cool As I Am looking out my friend Jay's window in San Francisco. And then I tried it out on a group of cool woman at the Kumbwa Cafe in Santa Cruz.
I started The Ocean in an undisclosed Washington city, surrounded by aspiring heroin addicts, while February began on the drive home from a friendly coffeehouse in eastern Massachusetts.
I wrote Iowa...well, it's pretty obvious where I wrote that. And when it was time to record it, one of my favorite people in the world, Cliff Eberhardt, sang on it, and so beautifully.
Steve Miller, who had done such beautiful work at Wyndham Hill, produced the album. He had this crazy new thing called digital recording that you could do anywhere, and since I lived with one of my managers, Charlie Hunter, we tacked up blankets on the walls and turned a whole room into the sound booth.
The Nields sisters went in and harmonized with their sister shorthand:
"That's too--"
"Maybe I'll try--"
"Yes. And I'll--"
Gideon Freudmann wandered into the blanket room and played the now familiar part in February as well as the trippy solo (as only Gideon could do), on the song about college potheads.
Steve brought players into New York City who were as generous of spirit as they were wildly talented. He introduced me to Steve Gaboury, Larry Campbell, Zev Katz, Billy Ward, Marc Schulman and his good friend, the late, great Jeff Golub. He also fired me on back-up vocals on The Christians and Pagans and asked Lucy Kaplansky to sing them instead!
He got Eileen Ivers to play the tempestuous part at the end of The Ocean and helped me invite John Prine to sing on it. I remember the first time I was on Mountain Stage in West Virginia, John poked his head into my dressing room and said, "I'll sing on your song."
And then, when we released the album in 1996, Joan Baez let me come with her throughout the United States. I loved every minute of touring with Joan. She did everything she could to teach me the ropes while always noting how far I'd already come. One night she had the band in her room after a show and the next morning I found my boots outside my room with the note, "You need new shoes. Other than that, you're perfect. -Joan"
A second album can be a daunting experience, but thanks to my managers Charlie and Carole, Razor and Tie, Steve Miller and Joan, it all felt like a magic carpet ride, and I can't thank everyone enough (I might have been too tired to thank them at the time).
And, given the title of the record, I also want to mention what I've seen since I released Mortal City. In the nineties, most towns and cities were still reeling from the decline of manufacturing and the rise of shopping malls. I was working with coffeehouse volunteers, local radio stations, and promoters who were trying very hard, with limited resources, to bring music, poetry and life back into their downtowns. Thanks to people like them, not only have many places reclaimed their former glory, they've improved on their histories, embracing their brick-walled, tree-lined Main Streets as they've welcomed more worldliness and diversity in the present. In 1996 I said, "We are not lost in the mortal city" as a statement of faith, and now, twenty years later, I say it as a statement of fact.
Thank you for opening up your towns and cities to me over the last twenty years. We're very excited to be presenting the full album on tour this fall.
Dar Williams
Tickets for the Return to Mortal City 20th Anniversary Tour on sale tomorrow!

05-30-2016, 09:37 PM
Seeing her in London on Wednesday! :D

05-31-2016, 06:10 AM
^Yay! Post pics/videos and make sure to give us a review if you would :) :) :)

06-02-2016, 08:05 PM
Yay, NY finally went on general sale! Got my ticket for Thursday.

06-05-2016, 11:59 AM
Yay! You guys are in for such a treat! She was on great form in London.

It was such a fun show with lots of singalongs and Dar's usual hilarious stories, commentary on how crap UK trains are and Greek gods who would like BBC4 documentaries.

I got some photos and videos:



Dar Williams - The Ocean - Borderline, London, 01/06/2016

Dar Williams - Iowa - Borderline, London, 01/06/2016

Dar Williams - The Mercy of the Fallen - Borderline, London, 01/06/2016

Dar Williams - February - Borderline, London, 01/06/2016

And a cool poster. :) :


We also got When I Was A Boy, The One Who Knows, Comfortably Numb(!!!), This Earth, Buzzer, The Beauty of the Rain, and a bunch of others I can't remember because my memory is like a sieve and she didn't have a set list I could swipe.

I got recognised by another fan from being in the crowd shot Dar had taken from the stage a previous she had played London. She seemed disappointed that I had only see Dar 6 times before. ;l ;l ;l

06-06-2016, 06:24 PM
YAY! Thank you so much.. I will return to this page later today to watch the videos!!!

06-07-2016, 06:04 AM
Thank you for those videos beanstew! She sounds absolutely fantastic. <3

06-07-2016, 06:29 AM
Thanks for the videos; getting me excited! My seat at City Winery should be right by her ankles, so I'll try to record a couple of songs also.

I wonder if the US shows are solo or with a band? I was assuming the latter because of the wording ("We're very excited to be presenting the full album on tour this fall") but I have to admit I've been a delinquent fan (haven't seen her in 10+ years) so I'm not even sure that she tours with a backing band these days at all?

I wouldn't say it's one of her "best" songs in retrospect, but my first favorite Dar tune was The Blessings and I'll always have a soft spot for it. The guarantee of hearing that and the title track alone made tickets a must-purchase. Any other Blessings fans?

06-07-2016, 04:45 PM
I love The Blessings! I have a soft spot for it, too. And it's not a bad song by any means, just maybe not THE best on the record. But you know, whatever!

Yeah, it's not the one I'd pick to showcase her songwriting, but it's so damn catchy and not bad by any means!

The title track came on during my run today; it's honestly the first time I've listened to it that intently in years, and I got chills toward the end. What a perfect song. "They were wrapped up like ornaments waiting for another season" - one of my favorite images.

09-05-2017, 01:28 AM
Dar's new book "What I Found In A Thousand Towns" is out tomorrow!!

03-21-2018, 04:49 PM

03-24-2018, 02:06 AM
What are they trying to say with the chorus. Leave the cathedrals and just go home and spend a lifetime finding out just where that is?
Is it commentary on religion which if you are religious sticks with you your lifetime?

Perky Compson
03-24-2018, 03:44 AM
Did not expect this to be a Jump Little Children cover.

I think it's pretty open to interpretation - "in the Cathedrals of New York and Rome there is a feeling you should just go home and spend a lifetime finding out just where that is" says to me that it inspires us to seek "home", i.e., enlightenment and/or God, which is a journey that we only reach when we die.

03-24-2018, 05:19 AM
I didn't even know that it wasn't a Joan Osborne song until they cited it as a Jump Little Children cover in the press release last month (Joan also covered it on Little Wild One). I really wanted to see Cry Cry Cry at Town Hall this week, but my schedule was too packed and by the time I decided to suck it up they were sold out :( I do hope they're recording enough for a second album - the original was in my Discman for a good long time back in the day!