Song of the Day #303: ‘Gay Messiah (Live)’ – Rufus Wainwright

rufus2Want Two contains a lot of ambitious and emotional music: album opener ‘Agnus Dei’ is a string-drenched, hyper-passionate Catholic hymn performed in Latin; closer ‘Old Whore’s Diet’ is a 9-minute epic alternating between a capella crooning and Mediterranean dance beats; ‘Little Sister’ is a baroque treat that, stripped of its vocals, would sound like it was written in the early 18th century.

But the song I love the most of all is the simplest tune on the album — the acoustic stroll of ‘Gay Messiah.’

I love this song on three levels. First, it’s just incredibly pretty. The studio version is particularly fine but this live performance captures it nicely too. The flighty backing vocals, meandering bass and gentle acoustic guitar add up to a kind of French cabaret sound I just love.

Second, the lyrics are so subversively dirty. The play on “Rufus the Baptist” and someone demanding his head, which he promises to “kneel down and give” … double entendre at its finest. The vision of the gay messiah stepping out of a 70s porn film “wearing tube socks with style and such an innocent smile” is hilarious and sweet at the same time.

Finally, without trying to be in the least, this is really a political anthem, rubbing the religious right’s faces in their hypocrisy and bigotry. I imagine this gay messiah will return to offer eternal bliss to the enlightened and the promise of salvation to those who are willing to own up to the sin of their homophobia. Now that’s an apocalypse I can root for!

He will then be reborn from 1970’s porn
Wearing tube socks with style and such an innocent smile

Better pray for your sins
Better pray for your sins
‘Cause the gay messiah’s coming

He will fall from the star, Studio 54
And appear on the sand of Fire Island’s shore

Better pray from your sins
Better pray for your sins
‘Cause the gay messiah’s coming

No, it will not be me
Rufus the Baptist I be
No, I won’t be the one baptized in cum
What will happen instead? Someone will demand my head
And then I will kneel down and give it to him looking down

Better pray from your sins
Better pray for your sins
‘Cause the gay messiah’s coming

8 thoughts on “Song of the Day #303: ‘Gay Messiah (Live)’ – Rufus Wainwright

  1. pegclifton says:

    Brave song and statement.

  2. Amy says:

    Wish Adam had sung this on the American Idol stage 🙂

    but I don’t think there’s anything subtle or subversive about his dirtly lyrics. When the line immediately preceding the ones you quote above is “No, I won’t be the one baptized in cum,” I find it difficult to see the second entendre 😉

    Well, if you were hoping this Rufus week would cause your anti-Rufus readers to give the man a second chance, you succeeded with me. I will keep my quips and insults to a minimum in the future. Still, I’m looking forward to next week’s songs 🙂

  3. Clay says:

    Well, I chose to focus on the double meaning of head, and the giving thereof.

    Today’s “possibly related posts” are even funnier than the one from the other day… “Anticipation of The Messiah,” “Jesus is Dogmatic About Statist Education” and “Focus on the Family Deals With Ted Haggard’s Moral Failure.” I wonder if any of those posts is pointing back to here.

  4. Dana says:

    Agree with Amy that this week, save perhaps the fist song, were fine examples of why Rufus should not be disregarded.

  5. Amy says:

    Yes, I was wondering what would happen if the regular reader of “Anticipation of the Messiah” innocently found his way to this post what might happen. Would his head explode? (a little double entendre for the Rufus crowd)

  6. Clay says:

    Well, I’m glad this theme week hasn’t driven everybody away! I will warn that there are still two Wainwright songs to come, though.

  7. Amy says:

    ?! I thought Sunday started each new week. Make them good ones! No whining allowed 🙂

  8. Clay says:

    I usually go Monday to Sunday. I threw in an extra one this week.

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