Song of the Day #999: ‘Poses’ – Rufus Wainwright

I fell for Rufus Wainwright in San Francisco. Appropriate, I guess.

I already owned Wainwright’s debut album, and loved it, but it was the release of his sophomore effort, Poses, that solidified him as one of my favorite artists. It’s that second album that separates the one-record wonders from the true contenders.

I bought Poses while on vacation in San Francisco (with my wife!) and listened to it for the first time on headphones in the hotel room. Wainwright had taken his sound in a new direction, somewhere exciting and cosmopolitan. It was more sleek than ornate, but just as passionate.

I don’t remember my first reaction to the title song. At some point, though, it became my favorite on the album and it remains one of my favorites of his overall. It’s a perfect marriage of performance and production, particularly as the strings soar with Wainwright’s vocals toward the end of the song.

‘Poses’ is about a man who gets caught up in the glamor and excess of the New York City scene, despite being told to proceed with caution, and winds up paying the price. Wainwright wrote the song about people he’d observed but wound up living out its tragedy himself as he battled a meth addiction following the album’s release.

The yellow walls are lined with portraits
And I’ve got my new red fetching leather jacket
All these poses such beautiful poses
Makes any boy feel like picking up roses

There’s never been such grave a matter
As comparing our new brand name black sunglasses
All these poses such beautiful poses
Makes any boy feel as pretty as princes

The green autumnal parks conducting
All the city streets a wondrous chorus singing
All these poses oh how can you blame me
Life is a game and true love is a trophy

And you said
Watch my head about it
Baby you said watch my head about it
My head about it
Oh no oh no oh no
Oh no oh no no kidding

Reclined amongst these packs of reasons
For to smoke the days away into the evenings
All these poses of classical torture
Ruined my mind like a snake in the orchard

I did go from wanting to be someone now
I’m drunk and wearing flip-flops on Fifth Avenue
Once you’ve fallen from classical virtue
Won’t have a soul for to wake up and hold you

In the green autumnal parks conducting
All the city streets a wondrous chorus
Singing all these poses now no longer boyish
Made me a man ah but who cares what that is

And you said watch my head about it
Baby you said watch my head about it
My head about it
Oh no oh no oh no
Oh no oh no well you said
Watch my head about it
Baby you said watch my head about it
My head about it
Oh no oh no oh no
Oh no oh no no kidding

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #999: ‘Poses’ – Rufus Wainwright

  1. Dana says:

    I didn’t know he had a meth addiction.

    I remember hearing him playing this song in concert, where I was hearing it for the first time, and I was immediately drawn to it. Good stuff.

  2. Amy says:

    This is another song that I like very much. Maybe Rufus is growing on me?! I’m not sure, but I can see why this is a favorite. Quite beautiful, really. Just lovely.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.