Continuing the chronological presentation of my 25 favorite songs…
‘After All‘ – Dar Williams (2000)
Eleven years ago, when I first wrote about this song on the blog, I couldn’t find it on YouTube so I had to upload my own version. That clip has received more than 125k views since. Not exactly ‘Gangnam Style,’ but pretty impressive for a rather obscure artist like Dar Williams.
On that clip, and on the other videos that eventually made it to YouTube, you’ll find many comments by listeners that this song quite literally saved their lives. I can only imagine how heartening that must be for Williams.
‘One Man Guy’ is a lovely track from Rufus Wainwright’s 2001 album Poses. It’s a cover of a song Rufus’ dad, Loudon Wainwright III, released on his 1985 album I’m Alright.
There’s a lot going on in this recording, including the twist Rufus’ homosexuality puts on the title. It’s also a loving but sharp-edged nod to a selfish streak in Loudon that didn’t make him the best father all the time. Rufus is joined on this track by his sister Martha on backup vocals.
Rufus Wainwright seems to have lost interest in the pop music world after 2012’s Out of the Game (a prophetic title in hindsight). Since then he has written and recorded an opera and a collection of Shakespeare sonnets set to orchestral music. Not exactly Top 40 material.
I don’t begrudge Wainwright his musical path, but I miss the old stuff. From 1998 to 2007, Wainwright released five amazing albums that married his classical sensibilities with a real knack for pop songcraft.
The next ‘Piano Man’ who occupies a strand of my musical genome is the loved-by-me, loathed-by-everybody-around-me Rufus Wainwright.
Wainwright uses quite a bit of acoustic guitar, not to mention orchestral music and horns, in his music but at heart he is a tickler of the ivories. Look no further than his sixth studio album, All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu, which featured nothing but his piano and vocals.
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.