There was a time when Lucinda Williams wasn't a famous country rock star. True. Back in 1998, just a few weeks before her Grammy-winning Car Wheels on a Gravel Road was released, I found Williams sitting alone in a Boulder, Colorado, bar next door to the venue where she had just played an album showcase event, dressed in white fringe jacket, boots, and jeans, and sipping a cocktail. We spoke uninterrupted for about 30 minutes, touching on music but mostly exploring a wide range of topics. She presented a fine Southern hospitality, sprinkling me with plenty of "hons" and "sugars." A similar scenario is less likely these days. Though Williams remains pretty down to earth, she's gone big time, having secured a second Grammy while releasing a handful of critically acclaimed albums. But she's earned her place. Williams' climb to the top was a hard-fought scramble, as gritty as her voice, yet her vision always has remained true. She hasn't succumbed to fame's pressures as her albums dabble in the blues or Native American music — styles that won't land on the pop charts. Though it might now be difficult to share a drink with her, it's never hard to appreciate her music.