Greek Myths Inspire Songs on Ninth Album by Williams ’89

Dar Williams '89

Dar Williams ’89 will release her ninth studio album In the Time of Gods (Razor and Tie) on April 17. She recently sat down with Glide Magazine to talk about the album, her time spent on tour with Joan Osborne, her dedication to environmental awareness, and the comeback of vinyl recordings. She has survived the music industry for more than 20 years, which has “allowed her the chance to work with some amazing artists, record songs that she wanted to hear (instead of what fit on radio), and most of all build a career in the grassroots aesthetic, all based on her strength as a live performer.”

Williams’ latest album is based on a concept, which she admits is a new approach for her.  She said: “I had this sort of horribly devious and funny thought about what would piss off my record company the most– how about writing a whole album about Greek myths? … And that’s when I really started to think about the different stories I’d grown up with, and that they were still very alive for me. So, in my travels I began to see the world through the eyes of these Greek myths, so coming into Silicon Valley, for example, is very much the song ‘This Earth,’ with this guy tinkering in his basement all the time with little robots as his friends, and he’s married to a beautiful woman for whom he makes beautiful things, but she’s never there and clearly he’s a fan of the Discovery Channel. … And specifically the story of Hephaestus, who is the God of artisans/blacksmiths and volcanoes, and he’s married to the Goddess of Beauty, and she literally is messing around with the God of War, whom she prefers, and so she’s disdainful of her basement-bound husband. It’s kind of like a children’s retelling of a very adult scenario, so that was my next song. And then one by one, they kept on springing up. …”

In the Time of Gods by Dar Williams '89

Because of the economic downtown, the budget for her new album was small but Williams was able to record the songs for free in her friend Rob Hyman’s studio. The recording also features guest artists Shawn Colvin and Broadway star Sherie Renee Scott.

The median age of the musicians playing on the album is around 50. Williams said: “They’re these guys who have done rock-and-roll professionally and really know their way around their instruments in this really incredible way. There’s a lot of professions where the term ‘seasoned’ is a real detriment, but in rock-and-roll it’s for people who have developed great instincts and have a huge repertoire that they can saddle up.”

In another interview with Ms. Magazine, Williams revealed that she will be teaching a music course at Wesleyan in the fall:

She said:  “My course is called ‘Music Movements in a Capitalist Democracy.’ Music movements have taken hold here, and they have interplay with the commercial world. The commercial world mirrors them and recognizes them, and sometimes makes a parody of them.

“I think it would be fun for [my students] to experience what it’s like to be in a movement, to get their mojo going, and make decisions. Like, how would you react to this? How would you germinate the beginnings of a people’s movement, as opposed to a commerce-initiated movement? I hope they experience that feeling.”

Glide Magazine interview

Ms. Magazine interview

Dar Williams web site

David Low

David Low '76 writes about arts and culture for the Wesleyan magazine and Wesleyan Connection. He is associate director of publications in the Office of University Communications. He is also a published fiction writer. E-mail: dlow@wesleyan.edu 

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