“I didn’t want to have to be in it,” Lucinda Williams says, describing her criteria for her first-ever music video. So, for the heartwrenching “Copenhagen,” she enlisted Dave Willis, co-creator and director of Cartoon Network’s Squidbillies, who wrote and directed a high-concept story of a man whose life is saved by scientists with one catch: he must now cope with life as an immortal robot (it’s not all it’s cracked up to be).
The story is not exactly what Williams was imagining when she wrote the ballad, about the night she learned about the death of her late manager and friend Frank Callari when she was on tour in Denmark in 2007. “We had that night off so we were getting ready to go out and get some dinner and we walked down from the hotel to this little place and the snow was coming down,” she says. “It was all very literal of the song. It’s the combination of the news of his death and being so far away over there.”
But she’s thrilled with Willis’s interpretation. “I was surprised. When I read it, I thought, ‘Ok, the robot thing or whatever.’ But then, I got it. I tend to be more literal, [wanting to] make a little movie kind of thing. It’s cool both ways.”
Williams attempted making videos in the Nineties, but they always fell through. She remembers one meeting where a director told her her ideas were too dark. “I said say what about Nirvana’s video?,’ and he said ‘Well, that’s Nirvana. They can do that … It was really hard to break into the video world back then. I guess it’s easier now because you got the online thing.”
Next, Williams will appear on The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams, an album organized by Bob Dylan containing unheard songs by the country great finished by Jack White, Norah Jones and Levon Helm (it’s set for release October 4th). Williams hopes there will be some gigs with the artists to promote the project. “We haven’t talked about it yet, but I would love to,” she says. “It’s pretty much a no brainer. If we could get some of the people together, yeah, it would be great. It took about five years after I made that track for it to come out. We didn’t know what was going on with it for the longest time. “