116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Dar Williams believes she'll be in better spirits when she returns to the Corridor for a concert Wednesday night, Oct. 27, 2021, at the Englert Theatre in downtown Iowa City.
A half-hour before she last performed in the Corridor — November 2016 at CSPS in Cedar Rapids — the veteran singer-songwriter was sobbing.
“It was exactly two days after Donald Trump was elected as President and I was choked up because of what (co-headliner) Richard Shindell said from the stage before I went on,” Williams said by phone this week from St. Louis. “I couldn't stop crying. I had so much trouble getting my head together before I stepped on to the stage. Just as I was getting it together, Richard said, ‘I have bad news: Leonard Cohen just died.’ That didn't help.”
The normally upbeat Williams, 54, is in much better spirits.
“I'm in a good place right now and I'm very excited about the world going forward,” she said. “There is a lot of good happening.”
At the Englert, she’ll be showcasing “I'll Meet You Here,” her first album in six years, which dropped Oct. 10. It’s full of well-crafted, personal songs, which are relatable and moving.
“That's just how my songs come out,” Williams said. “I have my own style.”
“You're Aging Well” is about not being worried about being yourself and enjoying the wisdom accrued with time. And the midlife tune “Time, By My Friend” is catchy and provocative.
“The song is saying instead of asking time what will happen in the future, you look at your future by looking back and seeing if your past is OK. I call that the room of weights and measures.”
“Little Town” is about existing well outside of the big city, which was impacted by Williams’ last project, her book, “What I Found in a Thousand Towns,” which hit shelves in 2017.
Unlike many of her peers, Williams always makes an effort to check out the cities where she performs.
“I'm a walker,” she said. “My joke is that I look like a friendly kid that just woke up from a nap when I walk the streets. I'm approachable. I've played so many venues that were just starting out and didn't have heat or good coffee. I've gone back to those venues and watched how they've grown. I love going to cities and experiencing them. I put many of them in my book.”
And she drew inspiration from the Corridor sites in which she has performed.
“Cedar Rapids and Iowa City were both seminal catalysts for writing this book,” she said, calling the cities “so special and unique.”
“I love the New Pioneer Food Co-op. I love how they put photos of the farmers on the wall and they show how far the farms are from the store. Whole Foods acts like they invented that connection with the farms, but it's not true. Places like the New Pioneer Food Co-op were doing it for the longest time. I love how they reach out to the community. That's the kind of place that inspired my book. I love the parks in Cedar Rapids with the beautiful benches. There is no place like it."
So fans should keep an eye out for Williams, who will be walking around Iowa City before her show.
“I love meeting people and seeing cool things,” she said.
Maybe there will be another on-the-road kind of book from Williams. But if not, there will be tunes.
“That's the other thing I do,” she said. “I'll definitely be writing more songs. It's my life.”