Dar Williams credits three influences for making her a successful singer-songwriter: her parents’ collection of folk-rock albums from the ’60s, her father’s love of classical music, which always wafted up from the basement when he was tinkering down there, and the New York radio of the ’70s, which was playing a lot of elaborate, harmony-filled disco. These days she refers to herself as “a song-driven person,” but recalls that even though she loved singing when she was 5, she later became more interested in being a playwright, because performing was too nerve-racking. But she had learned to play guitar and had been writing some songs in college. She moved from New York to Cambridge, she says, because “a friend said I could get a bagel and a cappuccino for less than two dollars here.” She also built up the nerve to try singing in public, explaining, “I went to a song circle, and decided that I had a crush on one of the guys there, so I could pursue the open mikes and pursue him at the same time.” Before long, she was a regular part of the Cambridge music scene, and was playing on the same stages as Cheryl Wheeler, Patty Griffin, Patty Larkin, and Greg Brown. Williams has called herself a lazy, distracted person, except when it comes to writing and performing music, when she tries to be as attentive as possible, and keeps on trying to find her strengths. “If a weird song comes through my head,” she said, “I don’t dismiss it. I assume that it’s a growth opportunity.” She still composes regularly, but is ever ready to burst out with her moving cover of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.” Her first album was 1993’s The Honesty Room. Her most recent is ’12’sIn the Time of Gods. Williams currently lives just north of Manhattan with her husband and two children.
(by Ed Symkus)
Published on December 28, 2012