Drink Deep

Known as much for multiple sclerosis as for songwriting, Victoria Williams finds Water to Drink under the desert sun

Williams laughs when her life story is compared to the TV show Survivor, but she admits there's a real pioneer spirit to her life. "Everything's a project," she mock complains. They dug a well and Olson built a stone-lined swimming pool, which sits behind the house, between the solar panels and a donkey corral. Walking from the house to the chaparral bottom, Williams stops to check on the fruit trees--peaches, plums, apricots, and nectarines. A family of quail hops through the grove. Williams picks some fruit and takes a bite of a peach that's been pecked at by some birds. "They manage to find the sweetest ones," she comments, "and I'm not worried about bird spit." Asked about her health, Williams says she's fine, though she has to watch herself; instead of walking around the property, she often bicycles, which she says "puts less stress on my body." And while she's always preferred to act as her own roadie, lugging her amp onstage and offstage, she now lets others do the job. Still, any physical frailty is countered by what Williams calls her "stubborn, self-sufficient streak." Just back from a tour opening for Lou Reed, she says that the road can be exhausting and a strain on her health--but in the same breath she complains that the time allotted for her set was too short. "After an hour I'm just getting warmed up," she says, adding that two hours is her ideal set length. "I feel fine these days."

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