More: Congratulations on your new album, In the Time of Gods.
Dar Williams: Thank you. I am really excited.
More: Why this particular title?
DW: I went through so many titles before choosing this one because it refers to a lot of Greek mythology and each song on this album refers to a different god.
More: Are you a big fan of Greek mythology?
DW: I was into it as a kid, and so was my own kid. We used to listen to the Percy Jackson audiobooks in the car. I mean, kids today are really into the Greek gods and Greek myths.
More: Hence the idea was born?
DW: Actually, the catalyst for this project came to me while I was looking at a beautiful empty highway in Canada at dusk in March, just after it had rained. The sky was silver, the lamps looked industrial and the land was shining. I had this picture of a biker in my head. Then I began thinking about what a great time he would have. Soon I started to imagine an epic adventure, and I thought of Hermes, the messenger of the dead. As I began to drive I had this story in my mind of a woman calling out to Hermes, who took her out on his motorcycle and tried to seduce her. Then I thought of all these archetypes I could springboard off of.
More: How would you describe these 10 songs?
DW: I think these songs explore many of today's most challenging social issues, which are told against the parables of Greek mythology. When I look at the present and there is this biblical apocalyptic showdown, the way these storms and human events are the crescendo up to one big judgment day—I just don’t buy it. When I look at things as a clash of egos and ideologies, strengths and weaknesses, very similar to Greek mythology, that makes a lot of sense to me.
More: Your first single on the album is called “I Am the One Who Will Remember Everything.” What does that mean?
DW: I was thinking about the cycles of history. About how radically angry, un-parented children—let's say, war orphans—can go on to become the angry, battling adults of the future. I thought of the goddess Hera, the queen of the Greek gods on Olympus, as the goddess of families and of respecting all the ordinary, day-by-day civilizing of children that parents and communities need to do. She was the narrator—that is, until I read that she was not the goddess of families, she was the goddess of marriage. She hates children. [Laughs.] So I created my own narrator, a warrior goddess of children. I thought, "There's got to be one out there."
More: A female warrior. That's interesting.
DW: When I wrote it, I was thinking specifically of the Taliban, and how they, who stone women and pull men off bicycles to measure their beards, seem like such rigid, angry children. They are, many of them, orphans of Afghanistan's war with the Soviet Union some 20 years ago. They are radically un-parented children. Their authority figures are ideologies, not real adults who give day-to-day lessons and read little parables like Curious George and Little Bear.
More: You are known to write about your own personal experiences.
DW: It is really cool to locate little bits of yourself in your songs.
More: Do you consider yourself a natural songwriter?
DW: I love writing stories because it calms down the hamsters racing around in your head.
More: So it's your emotional outlet.
DW: Yes. It is very much the kind of thing I will explore. Songwriting is like creating pearls. You have to allow yourself the process of going through the ups and downs and give everything time, similar to how pearls are formed. You are building something you can capture, like a moment of beauty. If you catch it before the process is complete you will have a lot of sand in your mouth.