If you listen to Rufus Wainwright for long enough (say 2 or 3 minutes), his lyrics will spoil you. They’re so witty and inventive that you’ll likely be ruined for listening to any other current pop out there. Rather than blabbing on about clichéd emotions, Wainwright tells stories with his music—odd, hilarious, and totally true ones. (The song “Rashida,” off his latest album, Out of the Game, is about a real-deal spat he had with a very famous former BUST cover girl.) Now factor in his amazing vocal range, brilliant melodic composition, and piano chops, and you’ll understand why I’m a die-hard RW Fan 4 Lyfe. I don’t think there’s another contemporary artist who I could literally listen to all day, although Neko Case may be a top contender.
(Mark Ronson and Rufus Wainwright)
I had the pleasure of catching his live show last night at The Church of the Ascension, a gorgeous Episcopalian church on lower 5th Avenue in Manhattan. The show was being taped for a PBS series called Live from The Artists Den and it was spec-tac-ular. It should be airing soon, so check on the air date and make sure you don’t miss it. Not only was the gothic atmosphere amazing, the famous-person-packed audience was an extra bonus—in attendance were Parker Posey, Laura Linney, and cutie pie Mark Ronson (who produced Rufus’ latest album and got up to play guitar for one song). Wainwright comes from a pedigreed musical family: his mother is the late great Kate McGarrigle and his dad is Loudon Wainwright III. In fact, it seems like Wainwright was actually born on stage, considering how well he performs and works the crowd. In between playing the shit out of the piano and amazing his audiences with his vocal prowess, he makes them giggle with his self-deprecating banter. He was a little sweaty at one point and the stage manager asked him if he wanted to freshen up. He responded, “No, I’m performing! What, am I supposed to look like Grace Kelly? I’m more like Harpo Marx!” (Not to worry, Rufus—you still looked like a handsome devil.)
If you’re new to Wainwright’s catalog, I recommend starting with any of his albums. But I’ve got a special fondness for his latest release, Out of the Game, and 2001’s Poses, probably his best-known record. At the moment, he’s about to tour Europe, and then he’ll head back to the states in July for more concerts. I command you to go see him live—it’s a game-changer.
I leave you with this:
I don’t know what this video is supposed to mean, but it involves Helena Bonham Carter and that’s enough for me.
And do NOT miss our interview with Rufus in the June/July issue, which’ll be on stands 5/29!