Wainwright has released only two pop albums in the last 13 years, detouring into opera and piano instrumentals, so my devotion has waned. I couldn’t really get into the album he released this year, Unfollow the Rules.
In part that’s because it’s the most recent song of the batch, but it’s also due to the tremendous impact it had on me right out of the gate.
I’ve described so many of these albums as ‘Desert Island Discs’ already that I fear I might have already reached my limit. If that’s the case, I’d have to kick something out the make room for Rufus Wainwright’s 2003 album Want One.
This is a record I’ve described as my favorite ever, though I’ve also bestowed that title on Paul Simon’s Graceland and Ben Folds Five’s debut album. At any rate, it’s in the running, definite top five material.
(As an aside, I won’t be featuring the Ben Folds Five debut during this series because I explored it in full late last year, dedicating a day to each of its 12 tracks. But rest assured, it belongs on any list of my favorite albums and it is represented here in spirit).
Another of the Want One tunes that immediately grabbed me and refused to let go, ‘Beautiful Child’ is a hurricane of a song with so much going on at once that it threatens to spin off into oblivion almost every second it’s on. But somehow it tiptoes on that edge and manages to never fall off.
I suspect this song will make Amy want to slap him. 🙂
Wainwright has described this as a “happy apocalyptic” song and I think that’s just about exactly right. It deals with the end of a life, the end of religion, the end of the world… but in terms of rebirth and enlightenment. It’s simultaneously disdainful of organized religion and deeply religious itself.
It’s appropriate that chance has put me in a position to choose as my 300th Song of the Day a tune I consider one of my very favorites ever.
Indeed, Rufus Wainwright’s third album Want One is itself on my short list of very favorite albums. Want One was released in 2003, two years after Poses, as the first half of a two-album arc. Want Two would hit stores a year later, but I’ll save that for another post. The two albums don’t have many specific connections apart from their cover art.