I was intially surprised to see I hadn’t already posted today’s track, from Rufus Wainwright’s 1999 self-titled debut album.
In fact, I’ve posted only one song from this album, period, the opening cut ‘Foolish Love.’
Looking back at that post, I was reminded why Wainwright has had a relatively low profile on the blog (26 Songs of the Day, including six on Random Weekends). My regular readers, especially ten years ago, just didn’t like him very much.
‘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.
Here’s a beautiful song from Rufus Wainwright’s 2010 collecton All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu, an album of piano ballads written in the months leading up to his mother’s death.
This very personal and classically-influenced album followed five baroque pop albums and hinted at Wainwright’s future direction. Though he did release another pop album, Out of the Game, in 2012, he then shifted his focus to recording and releasing an opera, 2015’s Prima Donna.
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.
Earlier in the first round of Montauk Madness, I voted for Paul Simon over Elton John. Now Simon shows up again, paired with Art Garfunkel, to take on Rufus Wainwright.
Simon & Garfunkel were one of my first musical loves. I owned all of their albums on vinyl more than a decade after they broke up and was delighted by every poetic turn of phrase, every gorgeous harmony.
I was about to write something about thoroughly gay Rufus Wainwright’s decision was to recreate Judy Garland’s Carnegie Hall concert song for song. But the sentiment seemed familiar. And sure enough, two years ago another song from this album popped up on a Random Weekend and prompted that very sentiment.
In fact, I’m pleased enough with the little joke I told then that I am simply going to repeat it now:
Here’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.