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Holly Williams

A Conversation with Holly Williams

Holly Williams: Sorry we've been playing phone tag. But I just dropped my dad and them off at the airport, so I'm good to go now.

Puremusic: Oh, good. My first question, really, is how are you, you know, after your recent accident? When was it, March?

HW: It was March 15th. I'm doing much better. I got my cast off my right arm and right wrist two weeks ago--no, three weeks ago. And I went through probably a week and a half of therapy. But I've just been working out on my own. And I feel great. I started playing again about a week ago, where I can play normally now, you know, playing guitar and playing piano again. And my range of motion is back. And my biggest worry was the staples in my head, but it's great--that's the fastest healing thing, they said. I was released in five days. We were in Memphis at the hospital down there for about a month. So it's really nice to be back home. And my sister is doing better. She'll start walking in about a month. She's still lying down, but she's in a hospital bed at my mom's house.

PM: Wow. So what was the accident? What happened?

HW: We were driving down Highway 61 to my grandfather's funeral, on my mom's side, headed to Louisiana.

PM: Oh, my God!

HW: And she was driving, I was in the passenger. And we just drifted, just a little bit, and there was a ton of gravel on the side of the road.

PM: Oh, and it pulled you right off.

HW: Yeah, when we hit the gravel it just--we lost control and started flipping. But yeah, there have been a lot of wrecks down there. And I didn't really notice until I went on a gravel road recently, how much it can--and right when you hit it--man, it just pulled us right off.

PM: And so what happened to you, you broke your arm and your wrist, and Hillary, what happened to her?

HW: My right wrist and arm, yeah. And she broke pretty much everything from the stomach down-hips, tailbone, pelvis, femur, right. Did she break both legs? Right ankle, left--literally--she just--a lot of broken bones from the hips down. And she had a pretty big ankle injury where the bone broke from the inside out, and so she had a big spot there where they had to do skin grafts and stuff like that. I mean, it is broken bones. They said had her tailbone not broken, she would have been paralyzed forever.

PM: Oh my god.

HW: So that was kind of a blessing that her tailbone broke. I guess the break in the tailbone prevented it from being a spinal cord injury.

PM: How scary.

HW: I guess when she first went in, they thought it was going to be a lot more permanent. And they are just broken bones. But you know, they said that the hips are the worst thing you can break. So one of them was really more shattered than the other one. But she went through three hip surgeries on the one side.

They said she's doing great now--I mean, she's ahead of schedule as far as recovery time. And she's rehab-ing her upper body and everything. I was out of the hospital after, I think, five days. But she was in the hospital for about a month, a month and a half, something like that.

PM: Oh, jeez.

HW: Because I didn't actually have surgery. She had a good bit of surgery.

PM: Wow. But she's on the road to recovery now.

HW: Yeah.

PM: Wow. And are you guys tight? You're close in age, right?

HW: Yes. She's 27, I'm 25.

PM: Wow. Is she musically inclined as well?

HW: She does a little bit. She's writing songs, and she sings. I'm kind of the loud outgoing personality, and she's shy. So she won't do it as much in front of people. But she will sometimes. She has a very high really just beautiful tone to her voice, almost like a bluegrass sounding tone.

PM: I'm always interested in how records begin. And in this case, yours begins with a finger picked guitar and the words, "I wish I were a little girl."  That's an interesting first impression to make with a record.

HW: Uh-huh.

PM: It kind of takes it all the way down to basics, in an instant.

HW: Yep.

PM: I mean, imagine if Springsteen started a record like that, "I wish I was a little boy." It's a very trippy way to start a record. And it's very beautiful. And then later on in that song you sing, "I wish I was an angel in '52, in a blue Cadillac on the eve of the New Year, and there I would have saved him, the man who sang the blues, but maybe he's listening right now." That's of course, about your grandfather, Hank Williams.

HW: Yep.

PM: I was thinking a lot about that. And do you mind if I ask whether the time of his death is known?

HW: It was 1952--you know how it says on the eve of the New Year. It was New Year's Eve in '52.

PM: So he died before midnight? Because in some places, I've seen it that he died on New Year's Day in '53. But in your record, I understand that, no, actually, he died on New Year's Eve in '52.

HW: You know what? I may be wrong on the actual time of--I know the car was pulled over on New Year's Eve. Now, there's many different reports of people saying, "Okay, he died--we saw him dead here," and then people saying, "No, we saw him the next day in the hospital." But it's all--everyone has a different story, so it's very confusing.

PM: I see.

HW: Yeah, no one really knows, because--

PM: And is it known where he died exactly?

HW: He died somewhere in between--some people at the hotel in Knoxville, where he stopped off, said that he was dead when they got there. People took him up to a room--who was driving the car, and a doctor gave him a shot. So some people say Knoxville, but it's known in between Knoxville and Canton, Ohio. I think it was Canton--oh, gosh, I hope that's right. But right near Knoxville, right outside Knoxville.

PM: The information is personal to me in a way, because it's a weird coincidence, but that New Year's Day, twelve seconds after midnight, was when I was born in Yonkers, in that very same window of time. So it's interesting to me to find out just when he died because that very same day I was born. And so you think that, well, maybe people born on that day get a little bit of something from the spirit of those that are leaving.

HW: Oh, wow, that is neat.

PM: So thanks for that, because personally that's interesting to me.

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