Lucinda Williams’ music has gotten her through her darkest days. It’s been that way since growing up amid family chaos in the Deep South, as she recounts in her candid new memoir, Don’t Tell Anybody the Secrets I Told You. Over the past two years, it’s been the force driving her recovery from a debilitating stroke she suffered on November 17, 2020, at age 67. Her masterful, multi-Grammy-winning songwriting has never deserted her. To wit, her stunning, sixteenth studio album, Stories from a Rock n Roll Heart, brims over with some of the best work of her career. And though Williams can no longer play her beloved guitar – a constant companion since age 12 – her distinctive vocals sound better than ever.

But post-stroke, she had to revise her own songwriting process, since she could no longer play guitar. “My process has always been to come up with some lyrics, then get the guitar and come up with a melody and some kind of structure,” Williams relates. “Once I get that, then I’d go back and edit the lyrics and add more. Pretty much like when you write and revise a story, except the guitar is added to it. It was very rare that I’d ever write all the lyrics completely without the guitar.”

Through all the hardships Williams faced in 2020 – a destructive tornado damaging her new home in Nashville, being sidelined by the pandemic, and then the catastrophic stroke – her music kept her going and continues to bring her more laurels. The past year has seen Williams honored by BMI for her songwriting, her induction into the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame, and a Grammy Week tribute at the Troubadour, with her songs performed by a diversity of Americana artists. She duetted with Willie Nelson on Billy Joe Shaver’s “Live Forever,” which won a Grammy in February for Best Country Performance.

As she promises on the powerful last track of Stories from a Rock n Roll Heart–one of the best albums of her career–Lucinda Williams is “never gonna fade away.”