I was lucky enough to get to interview Dar Williams for the second time a few weeks ago. In my head, we’re best friends. Just let me have this.
Dar Williams has been a fixture in my life since 1990s. I was leaving Roman Catholicism for the woods and her song “The Christians and the Pagans” was handed to me by a dear friend, and I hung onto it for dear life.
“We’re here,” Williams says, “to cocreate and coexist.” She’s helped countless fans over the years do just that with her songwriting retreats, which inspired her new book How to Write a Song That Matters, published this past September by Hatchette Books. “I lead a songwriting retreat [that] is called ‘Writing a Song That Matters,’ but we thought if we had a book called ‘Writing a Song That Matters,’ people would think it was a memoir,” Williams explains, “which is hilarious because that’s the opposite…it’s not like, ‘Oh, I wrote a song that matters.’ My whole job for the last ten years has been to help people write songs that matter to them, so we gave it that kind of guidebook title.”
The resulting book is a gentle, funny and honest textbook about how to craft poetry, and then set that poetry to music. It gives, in Williams’ words, “a wise path, beginning-to-end, writing-a-song guide culled from our years of retreat,” she says, “hopefully making room for everybody with all the different ways they create.” Her voice is clear in the whole read, and her touch is gentle and also a little pushy—in just the correct way.
Whether you write songs or aspire to, or not, this book is a treasure. You can see the struggle and anxiety that goes into crafting art. If you’re an artist yourself (and aren’t we all?) you’ll relate. As a writer, I feel as if she peeked into my brain and said, “Aw, honey. Just breathe. The words will come.”
With a teacher like Dar Williams, they’ll flow like water. | Melissa Cynova
For more details on Dar Williams How to Write a Song That Matters, visit https://bit.ly/dar-how-to-write-a-song-that-matters.
Dar Williams on tour
11.14.22 | Triple Door – all request show | Seattle, WA
11.15.22 | Triple Door – all request show | Seattle, WA
11.16.22 | Café Artichoke – How to Write a Song That Matters workshop | Portland, OR
11.17.22 | John G. Shedd Inst. For the Arts – all requests | Eugene, OR
11.18.22 | Humboldt Brews | Arcata, CA
11.19.22 | Jam Cellars Ballroom | Napa, CA
12.01.22 | State Theatre | State College, PA
12.02.22 | City Winery – all request show | Philadelphia, PA
12.03.22 | Rams Head Tavern – all request show | Annapolis, MD
12.04.22 | Birchmere – all request show | Alexandria, VA
12.09.22 | BOMBYX Ctr for Arts & Equity – all requests | Northampton, MA
12.10.22 | Jimmy’s Jazz and Blues Club – all requests | Portsmouth, NH