How Lucinda Williams Made 'Car Wheels': 500 Greatest Albums Podcast - Rolling Stone
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500 Greatest Albums Podcast: How Lucinda Williams Took the Long Road to a Masterpiece

It took three years, three different cities, and four different producers, but ‘Car Wheels on a Gravel Road’ is a perfect album

Lucinda Williams performing at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View Calif. on September 26th, 1998.  Image By: Tim Mosenfelder/ImageDirect

Williams performing at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, CA, in 1998

Tim Mosenfelder/ImageDirect/Getty Images

In the latest episode of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums, our new podcast on Amazon Music, we dive into Lucinda Williams’ 1998 masterpiece Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, an album that helped define modern roots music and got Williams’ long-overdue recognition as one of America’s greatest songwriters. The album took three years, four producers, and some label drama to make, but Williams’ perfectionism resulted in, arguably, a perfect album. 

Williams joins Rolling Stone Country‘s Joseph Hudak to tell the stories behind songs like “2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten” (about a colorful Mississippi juke joint), “Lake Charles” (a character study of a tragic ex-boyfriend), and the personal title track (a sketch of a shunned child that affected Williams’ father so much that he apologized to his daughter when he first heard it). Producers Steve Earle and Ray Kennedy, as well as Williams fan and singer-songwriter Waxahatchee, help flesh out the story. Later in the episode, Rolling Stone staffers Claire Shaffer and Jon Freeman join host Brittany Spanos and Hudak to discuss the album’s legacy.

In September, Rolling Stone unveiled the new version of the 500 Greatest Albums poll. It’s a completely updated version of our most-read, most-argued-over list ever, made with help from a group of voters that included Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Stevie Nicks, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and members of U2, as well as writers, critics, and figures from across the music industry. 

Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums goes inside the making and the meaning of 10 albums from the list, featuring fresh stories from the artists who recorded them and insights from the Rolling Stone staff. The podcast appears exclusively on Amazon Music, with new episodes each week. Listen to every episode here

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