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Rufus Wainwright. Photo by Laura MusselmanRufus Wainwright performs in KEXP’s studios in 2007. (photo: Laura Musselman)

What do you do on a 16-hour family road trip to Montana with two sons under five and a wife riding shotgun? Play a lot of music — and sing badly. But, there are certain songs, certain performers that bring on the quiet. And this live performance from Rufus Wainwright is one of them.

Fumbling around my pickup’s floorboard pickup while cruising down I-94, my fingers serendipitously happened upon an unlabeled compilation CD I had burned in 2007. Etched with grit and gravel, it actually started playing. The opening track: Rufus Wainwright’s live version of “Going to a Town” that he performed at KEXP’s studios in Seattle while promoting Release the Stars.

Trying to conjure up meanings of the song’s lyrics would require too much exegesis, if you will, for this humble post, but Wainwright’s melodic challenging of America and its brokenness is valid four years later. Through this song, he forces us to remember what we once were as a nation — even if it’s a dream — who we’ve become, and what kind of people we might aspire to be again.

When I hear a ”Daddy, daddy. Play it again!,” I know he’s the right notes.


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7 Comments

Wow!
While I love his dad's and his mom's (and his mom's sister's) music, putting on Rufus for any road trip is suitable only when you want to put on "Music to drive into the deepest black hole of a ditch by the roadside".  Hope you got to Montana in one piece....

No way! I'll admit that I haven't listened to a lot of Loudon's work, but Rufus is a fine alternative to the thin pop that my beloved and our children sing along to. There's something very hopeful in his music and lyrics — mesmerizing, like the landscapes that surrounded us. Cheers.

Trent!
To each ears, their own...but in conjunction with HighRoadArtist's comments, I only add that it's tough driving with tears in one's eyes.  Hope the front seat passenger was at the ready with piles of handkerchieves....

As a daddy now, songs like his (and Johnny Cash for some reason) do strike a chord with me — whom I hope my boys will become and the beautiful world that they'll be part of. So, you are correct, tissues are at the ready... or my shirt sleeve. Thanks for the conversation, Darkoze.

This brought tears to my eyes. Stunningly beautiful. He's singing for what we lost and he gives me a sense of hope that, with artists like him in this country, we may just find our way back. Thank you.

Hey sugar, go to where I used to live: Mexico & Nicaragua. 

Be sure not to get rich here. 
Hate when you self-important fuckwads USE America to get rich, then *shit* on America.
What drivel.  What a -waste- of talent....talent developed in America, because Real Men have struggled to keep YOU free. 
Why don't you write a song about -that-.   ...or were you aware.

Love Rufus, love Loudoun, love Kate, love Anna, love Martha. What an amazing musical clan. Yes, Rufus can be the bittersweetest, but his voice has that angelic quality, and his poetry is moving and not trivial. This particular tune I have not heard before, and it's a keeper. His sentiments are so hauntingly true, and I think daily about leaving America myself. I, however, am born of her, and my roots run deep and tenacious.