Song of the Day #2,330: ‘Respectable Dive’ – Rufus Wainwright

out_of_the_gameHere’s another album that I kept off my list of the top 20 of the decade so far because I didn’t want to show undue favoritism.

Rufus Wainwright’s 2012 Out of the Game was a splendid return to art-pop form after a five-year span in which he released only an album of somber piano ballads.

The best Rufus Wainwright albums take full advantage of the musical palette, finding room for strings, horns and choirs in addition to Wainwright’s piano and guitar. Out of the Game delivered on that front.

But I can’t say it’s as good an album as Want One or Poses or his self-titled debut. If I take off my superfan hat, I’d probably classify this as a good but not quite great album.

It’s the hat that tips it into greatness, as it does for so many records by so many artists I adore. And thank god for that — it’s what makes being a music fan so rewarding. But for this list, I decided to leave the superfan hat in the closet.

Let’s meet in a respectable dive
On the somewhat safe street
And have a beer
We’ve both kept our eyes on the ball
We know the lyrics to them all
These songs of fear

And baby I love you
And I do not want to lose you
But I’m not able to put my cards on the table
And if you only knew of the hand that I’m holding
You would be blushing
And I am so far from bluffing
In this respectable dive

I know that we never play cards or write postcards
When we’re both in the same town
But still I remember some notes on the kitchen counter
Back from work I’ve found

And baby I love you
And I do not want to lose you
But I’m not able to put my cards on the table
And if you only knew of the hand I was holding
You would be blushing
And I am so far from bluffing
In this respectable dive

Baby I love you
And I do not want to lose you
Baby I love you
And I do not want to lose you

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10 thoughts on “Song of the Day #2,330: ‘Respectable Dive’ – Rufus Wainwright

  1. Dana says:

    It seems like it would be hard for you to make that internal adjustment, while creating your subjective best of list, to determine if you are ranking a particular favorite artist’s album too high or too low because of the influence of the superfan hat. For example, perhaps, as you say, certain long time favorites like Ben Folds or Rufus were adjusted lower because you consciously removed that hat, but I think, in other cases, you may have forgotten to remove the hat when it came to artists like Tift Merrit.

  2. Clay says:

    I hope Maddie and Amy are reading, because no doubt they’ll have a field day with your suggestion that Miranda Lambert and Tift Merritt didn’t earn their spots on the list. Wonder what those two have in common, in contrast to Ben Folds and Rufus Wainwright?

    • Dana says:

      Ah, so maybe the hat you now wear favors the gender and genre (women and country) that you in the past did not like as much.😜

    • Amy says:

      Eh… I don’t think you’re seeing an anti-woman bias here from Dana, but rather an anti-Country one. If you’d listed Brad Paisley, he would have made the same snide comment, and you never hear/read him jettison Aimee Mann, Fiona Apple or Adele from your list (who I’m pretty sure he was defending in this space yesterday for just “barely” making your list). In fact, he’s often arguing that you need to get over your bias against Joni Mitchell. I, on the other hand, appreciate that you simply don’t like her voice (despite the fact that I and many other people just love that same voice).

      Hell, today’s artist is much the same. I don’t even want to play the video, as his voice grates on me so. Still, I appreciate that you have loved him for years.

      As for Dana, it comes down to this – if he agrees with your choice, he thinks it’s a fine one. No questions asked 🙂

      • Dana says:

        I’ll accept the anti-country bias or, differently stated, that Clay has been evangelizing his favorites of those over non-country favorites of late. I reject the anti-woman bias (or Clay favoring women). I called out Tift Merrit today, who I believe has two albums on this list, because I contend Clay feels the need to evangelize her to his readers over Ben Folds, who needs no further evangelizing.

        Put more simply, I believe that if it were Ben Folds with whom Clay’s readers were unfamiliar, rather than Tift Merritt or Miranda Lambert, the excellent new BFF album would have found its way into the top 20 while perhaps the second Tift album or third Lambert album would have fallen outside of the list.

  3. Clay says:

    Or maybe those artists put out excellent albums over the past five years.

  4. Clay says:

    I acknowledge the anti-country bias from Dana, though the two Tift Merritt albums on the list are not country (they’re far more Joni Mitchell, in fact). But he wouldn’t know that, so he’s probably lumping her into that genre.

    I’m not sure I buy the evangelizing argument, though, because I’ve certainly given both Tift Merritt and Miranda Lambert more than their fair share of real estate on this blog (as I have for Ben Folds).

    As obvious as it sounds, I really tried to pick the 20 albums that worked best for me in and of themselves, regardless of artist. What I wanted to avoid was an album making the list more because of the artist than the album.

    Sometimes outside circumstances give an album an extra push — Tift Merritt’s Travelling Alone, for example, was bolstered by the fact that I saw her perform it five feet in front of me in my favorite-ever live concert experience.

    • Dana says:

      To clarify, I wasn’t suggesting Tift Merritt was country. I have certainly heard enough from her in concert and on this blog to know that she is not.

      Perhaps if the audience was not so obnoxious when we saw BFF and we were sitting in the front row, their new album would have edged its way into the list:)

  5. Amy says:

    More than anything, this exchange makes me realize that I couldn’t begin to make such a list. For the year? Sheesh, I’m lucky if I can name 20 favorite songs in a year. I’m just impressed that you have stayed on top of music as you have. I wouldn’t know where to begin.

  6. Clay says:

    Well, it’s a list for the decade so far… so 5 years. 🙂

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