Song of the Day #4,324: ‘Damsel in Distress’ – Rufus Wainwright

Rufus Wainwright is another artist whose 2020 plans have been upended by the coronavirus. The April release of his new album, Unfollow the Stars, has been pushed back to mid-July and much of his tour schedule has been cancelled.

Wainwright has made the most of the situation, though, performing daily “Quarantunes” from his apartment and releasing the videos on Facebook. Each day he sits, either at the piano or with guitar in hand, always in a bathrobe, and belts out a selection from his enviable catalog.

Many artists have adopted this “concert from home” habit, either for the exposure or for a small fee via Patreon, and it’s made for some enjoyable content during this uncertain time.

This early single from Unfollow the Stars is quite good, and has me very excited for Wainwright’s first pop music release since 2012’s Out of the Game. He has released an opera and a collection of Shakespearean sonnets set to music since then, but I can’t say I’ve spent any time listening to either.

This song was inspired by Joni Mitchell, whom Wainwright began to appreciate only recently. He had this to say about the track:

’Damsel In Distress’ is an homage to Joni Mitchell in some ways, particularly the structure. My husband and I now live in Laurel Canyon. I wasn’t that familiar with Joni’s music but Jörn became obsessed and took me on a journey into her music. We ended up hanging out with her and I get now why she’s one of the greats. So it’s part Laurel Canyon, part a song about a personal relationship that I’m trying to come to terms with, but mostly my Mitchell virginity being broken.

[Verse 1]
Will you forever be a damsel in distress
Will you forever be a harbinger of loneliness
Yes, I remember smiles
Yes, I remember wiles
Behind the Square of Sloan
Under the English moon within the Chelsea sky

[Verse 2]
Will you forever be wandering the wall
Looking for what you see
Your father’s face in a waterfall
Yes, I remember smiles
Yes, I remember wiles
Behind the Square of Sloan
Under the English moon within the Chelsea sky

[Chorus]
So much
You got exactly that
You got exactly what you wanted
But what the hell is that?

[Verse 3]
Who do you think I am?
A traveler on the wind?
I am a prince of man who was raised to soon be king
All I can do is fight
All I can do is write
Behind the Square of Sloan
Under the English moon there I learned to survive

[Chorus]
So much
You got exactly that
You got exactly what you wanted
But what the hell is that?

[Verse 4]
I hope you find your way for the sake of what we’ve lost
And that there comes a day
When you realize the precious cost
Yes, I remember smiles
Yes, I remember wiles
Behind the Square of Sloan
Under the English moon you in your disguise

[Chorus]
So much
You got exactly that
You got exactly what you wanted
What the hell is that

[Outro]
Will you forever be
A damsel in distress
Will you forever be
A damsel in distress
Will you forever be
A damsel in distress
Will you forever be
A damsel in distress
Will you forever be
A damsel in distress
Will you forever be
A damsel in distress

One thought on “Song of the Day #4,324: ‘Damsel in Distress’ – Rufus Wainwright

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    So an artist whose voice Amy doesn’t like singing in the style of an artist whose voice you don’t like? Frankly, the qualities of both voices that rub you and her the wrong way are really not on display here, so maybe you can both find common ground and like this song.😜

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