Lucinda Williams's rise to fame was anything but easy. Raised in a working-class family in the Deep South, she moved from town to town each time her father—a poet, a textbook salesman, a professor, a lover of parties—got a new job, totaling twelve different places by the time she was eighteen. Her mother suffered from severe mental illness and was in and out of hospitals. And when Williams was about a year old, she had to have an emergency tracheotomy—an inauspicious start for a singing career. But she was also born a fighter, and she would develop a voice that has captivated millions.
Captivating ... The often hilarious, occasionally harrowing Don’t Tell Anybody the Secrets I Told You is a bracingly candid chronicle of a sui generis character plotting a ramshackle but ultimately triumphant trajectory.
Williams’s memoir is as flinty, earthy and plain-spoken as her songs ... Throughout her book, Williams recognizes her own appetites and mistakes. She writes about suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder and bouts of depression ... Her memoir shows how deep that grit runs.
Throughout the book, she tells you who the songs were about—guys who committed suicide, guys who did her wrong, guys who gave her a little pleasure and a lot of pain—but, really, they’re about you. She wrote songs about desire, about flirtation, about bad behavior that felt so good ... The book has a postscript—she advises readers to read Sexton and Plath and Ferlinghetti and Bukowski, to listen to Nick Drake and Miles Davis and Lou Reed. To go to the desert, ride on a Ferris wheel, protest a war, dance ... You could follow all her instructions and never become Lucinda Williams. That’s a miracle that could happen only once.