Friday, December 17, 2004

Rufus is a Tit Man

Ever since Loudon Wainwright III wrote this song about his son, Smartmom has been fascinated by the child of Loudon and Kate McGarrigle.

Rufus is a tit man
Suckin' on his mamma's gland
Suckin' on the nipple
It's a sweeter than the ripple wine.
Yes its sweeter than the wine.
You can tell by the way the boy burps
that it's gotta taste fine.


It wasn't until she went to see the movie "Shrek" that Smartmom heard Rufus Wainwright sing. And boy did he sing: it was a magnificent rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Halleluah." This inspired Smartmom to purchase the generally decent "Shrek" soundtrack. The song soon became a big favorite on Third Street.

After hearing him do a cover of "Across the Universe" and a self-penned song called "Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk" on her neice's walkman, Smartmom knew she absolutely had to own a Rufus Wainwright album.

Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk
These are just a few of my cravings
Everying it seems I like is a little bit stronger
and a little bit thicker
a little bit harmful for me


Smartmom proceeded to buy all of the Rufus' oeuvre and she's glad she did because, in a sense, he's a member of the family - the family of performers that Smartmom considers her own.

Smartmom has always been fascinated by the Wainwright-McGarrigle clan. First off, because they are so cool. Secondly, because their music is non-pareil.

Loudon and McGarrigle, one half of French Canadian singer/songwriter duo, The McGarrigles, married in the seventies and had two kids -- Rufus and Martha. They divorced soon after but what musical genes they bequeathed on their children. Rufus and Martha grew up with their mother in Montreal. Smartmom imagines lots of family sing-alongs in the living room. The McGarrigle's albums are bona-fide gems --"Dancer with Bruised Knees, "French Album," "Love Over and Over," Heart Beat Accelerating" -- all of them well worth a listen and a close reading of the lyric pages:

Go, leave
She's better than me
Or at least she is stronger
She will make it last longer
That's nice for you

Go, leave
Don't come back
No more am I for the taking
But I can't say that my heart's not aching
It's breaking in two

I remember days when we laughed a lot
Those that weren't so good I soon forgot
We could sit and talk till words
Were coming out our ears
Not just for days or weeks or months
But it's been years
Now here they come
Here they come here come my tears

So go, leave
You said goodbye
But could it be that you are stalling
Hearts have a way of calling
When they've been true

How to describe the intertwining, sisterly harmonies of The McGarrigles? Raw, unearthly and melliflous. The lyrics are blunt and poetic odes to real lives, deep lives.

Loudon is another Smartmom favorite. His very first album was a gift from Groovy Grandpa, back when she was in high school. For Christmas, he gave her a stack of LP's by singer/songwriters who were being heralded as "the new Bob Dylans." The group included: Loudon, Bruce Springsteen's "The Wild, the Innocent, the E Street Shuffle," and Jackson Brown's "Late for the Sky.

While Bruce was a great discovery, Loudon was definitely the wittiest and most literary of the group. Smartmom practically wore out the grooves on that album that is now out of print. She ran into Loudon once outside of Matt Umanaov Guitars on Bleecker Street. Wearing a blue and white striped seersucker suit (with shorts), he told her that that first album was reissued by Edsel Records in England.

Then there's Rufus, who sings in a nasally, soaring, gorgeous cabaret singer voice with Leonard Cohen, his parents, opera, Cole Porter with a little Edith Piaf flavored in. The songs are well-crafted, honest confessions of an interesting, sometimes troubled, always gay life.

His last album, "Want One," was overproduced and broad -- brilliant in parts but reeking with "This is my big musical concept album" in feeling.

The new album called "Want Two," is a whole lot better. The songs are beautiful, catchy, well-written, heartfelt, heartbreaking and FUN with a few cuts that make you feel like dancing. Smartmom can listen to it over and over which she can't say about "Want One." Great songs include: "Peach Trees," "Little Sister," "The Art Teacher," "Gay Messiah," "Crumb by Crumb" and "Old Whore's Diet."

So thar you have it. Rufus. Kate. Loudon. Martha sings backup on all of Rufus' albums and is a songwriter/performer in her own right. What a familie de musique.

4 Comments:

At 8:28 PM, Blogger brooklynfox said...

SM, thanks for giving a nod to my boy, Bruce. I too, as you know, love Rufus Wainwright. Funny, I never warmed up to Want Two but I can listen to Want One over and over. Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk and California are two of my favorites. He is just lovely. My friend, Skinny M, in LA, introduced me to Rufus a long time ago but you made me love him. Plus, you indulged my habit of listening to one album incessently until I couldn't bear to hear it again for months. The Goose requests Rufus on occasion by asking for "Chocolate Milk" and pointing to the stereo cabinet. Thanks for dedicating a post to this lovely singer/songwriter. RFJ

 
At 10:14 PM, Blogger Savtadotty said...

I too am a Rufus fan ever since I first heard his voice on a McGarrigles album, gift from my music-wise son.
Rufus's voice is a bit nasal, but his musicality shines through for me because of the way his voice gently holds the "line" - he has the breathing thing down pat.

 
At 8:04 AM, Blogger mamainwaiting said...

I guess we got into our Kate & Anna Mcgarrigle phase beginning in college - That lead to The Roches, Holly Near and other feminist/lesbian performers. But K & A had an earthy/ grittiness to their voices - and their songs were like little narratives about love, family, disapointment. They're the real deal. Rufus also has that quality. He is mesmerizing to watch - I saw him the other night performing " Art Teacher" and I couldn't take my eyes off of him. I also love Poses where he ryhmes Clothes with Poses... Also, his beatle cover is great on the I Am Sam album. I like his gay males sensibility. Something you don't hear a lot in song. He refers to himself as a girl and seems very comfortable in his sexuality. No hiding in the closet for him. He is a cutie.

 
At 9:19 AM, Blogger mrs.kravitz said...

California & Want One... I could listen to these as many times as S & S listent to the Shrek CD!
-MK

 

Post a Comment

<< Home