‘Barcelona’ is a dark, moody song about fear and the desire to escape. The lyrics are informed by Wainwright’s rape at age 14 in a London Park during a time when HIV was at its peak. The line “don’t want my rings to fall off my fingers” refers to the weight loss associated with the disease.
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.
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.
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.
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.