Lucinda Williams Talks Stroke, Recovery, Playing Again

A number of days earlier than Thanksgiving final yr, Lucinda Williams was within the rest room of her Nashville residence on the brink of take a bathe when she started to have hassle holding her stability. She stumbled a bit and couldn’t rise up straight. Even extra horrifying, Williams couldn’t stroll. She referred to as out to her husband, Tom Overby, who occurred to be on the cellphone with their major care doctor. When he relayed Williams’ signs to their physician, he was informed to shortly get her to a hospital.
The Americana singer-songwriter, 67 on the time, was having a stroke.
“An ambulance got here and acquired me and we informed them to not put the massive siren on. We didn’t wish to alarm the neighbors or something,” Williams tells Rolling Stone in her first interview since struggling the stroke on November seventeenth. “But they put the siren on.”

Williams was rushed to Nashville’s Vanderbilt Medical Center, the place she spent every week within the intensive care unit present process a barrage of assessments. Doctors found a blood clot on the suitable aspect of her mind, which affected the left aspect of her physique. Williams was transferred to a rehabilitation middle at Vanderbilt to start a monthlong therapy of remedy. Finally, 5 weeks after the episode, on December twenty first, she was discharged and returned residence.

The well being scare comes amid a profession renaissance for the roots-music icon, who has influenced artists from Jason Isbell and Miranda Lambert to Gillian Welch and Waxahatchee. Her 2020 album Good Souls Better Angels was launched to crucial raves and earned her a pair of Grammy nominations. She spent an excellent portion of the pandemic performing covers and her personal materials within the livestream collection Lu’s Jukebox (recorded earlier than the stroke) and talked about her watershed album Car Wheels on a Gravel Road as a part of Rolling Stone‘s RS500 Greatest Albums podcast.
For the previous six months, Williams, who turned 68 in January, has been working with therapists to repair the injury achieved by the stroke. She walks with a cane, has lingering ache in her left arm and leg, and is unable to play guitar. But based on Overby, her prognosis is a one hundred pc restoration, as docs noticed no indicators of mind injury.
“What occurs is your mind will get all… the wires get all crossed and you must retrain your mind principally, to inform your arm to do no matter it’s you’re attempting to do,” Williams says. “So that’s the largest problem.”
Williams didn’t endure speech aphasia from the stroke and he or she’s usually droll in describing her routine of therapy from the aides and therapists who swarm her residence.
“It seems like we’re in anyone else’s home,” she says. “I do, like, strolling, with the cane they usually watch me and see how effectively I’m doing. And then I’ve to do hand and arm workouts. It’s actually about regaining my energy and mobility, and vary of movement. That’s what they work with me on.”
As her situation started to enhance, she and Overby slowly began to inform mates and friends what had occurred. She says some acquaintances nonetheless don’t know.
“I thought of going to Facebook, however I didn’t wish to make it a giant, alarming factor. Because you understand how Facebook is — all people’s like, ‘We’re praying for you and every little thing,’ you already know? I didn’t need folks to overreact,” she says. “I form of felt like going off the grid a bit of bit.”
Williams was scheduled to carry out at this weekend’s Mile 0 Festival in Key West, Florida, however canceled the looks in late April. She has little doubt about performing stay sooner or later and is concentrating on mid-summer for a return to the stage.

“I really feel good and optimistic about enjoying once more. We’ve acquired some reveals scheduled with Jason Isbell for late July and we’re planning on doing these,” Williams says. “I don’t know if I’ll rise up and sing or I’ll sit down like an old blues particular person. But we’ll determine it out.”
In the meantime, Williams says she’s been writing (“I’ve acquired a bunch of lyrics, however I don’t have the music as a result of it’s been onerous to sit down and play”) and not too long ago traveled to her producer Ray Kennedy’s Nashville studio to try vocals for an upcoming mission by her good friend Chrissie Hynde.
“It’s truly the Rolling Stones music ‘Sway,’” Williams says. “She needed me to strive singing and we went within the studio and I did a vocal. That felt good.”
Overall, Williams appears unperturbed by the entire affair. She’s matter of reality in recounting the main points and wonders solely what triggered the stroke. “Numerous occasions it might be stress and all that, however [the doctors] didn’t know for certain,” she says. To her data, nobody in her household had ever had one. “You hear about this stuff on a regular basis. Usually, it’s anyone a lot older. That’s what I used to be shocked about, you already know?”
When requested if she has a message for her followers, Williams pauses earlier than reassuring them to not fear.
“The principal factor is I can nonetheless sing. I’m singing my ass off, in order that hasn’t been affected,” Williams says. “Can’t preserve me down for too lengthy.”

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