If you’re going to run around with peacocks, which is what people generally do in the pop-music business, you could have no better training than Lucinda Williams had at the age of five. Her father, the poet Miller Williams, taught college in Macon, Georgia during the late 1950s, and every two or three weeks he would take his daughter on a short drive to visit Flannery O’Connor, who loved peacocks — she had a small flock of them in her backyard and another flock in her writing. O’Connor let the girl chase the magnificent, noisy birds, and Lucinda Williams would for the rest of her life carry a child’s memory of the writer lady and her bizarre pets. After all, to have played with the peacocks in O’Connor’s yard is kind of like having swatted butterflies at Nabokov’s house.
Continuing our theme of connections: Flannery O’Connor was hostess to the young Lucinda Williams. The older Lucinda Williams recorded a duet with Steve Earle. Steve Earle recorded a song about John Walker Lindh, the “American Taliban.” The Taliban are allies and co-religionists of Osama bin Laden. So there’s your path linking Flannery O’Connor, author of Wise Blood and “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” with the author of 9/11.
Come to think of it, Hazel Motes from Wise Blood has more than a bit of Taliban in him, even if he is a Christianist obsessive instead of an Islamist.