Loudon Wainwright III
Loudon Wainwright III
For the past fifty-two years, Loudon Wainwright III has carved out a distinguished career as one of our most original singer-songwriters, a six-string diarist with material that is by turns, tongue-in-cheek, tender, sarcastic, heart-wrenching, and always deeply personal. Along the way, he’s released over twenty albums, won a Grammy, acted in film and TV, and had his songs recorded by artists including Johnny Cash, Mose Allison, Bonnie Raitt, and his own son, Rufus Wainwright. In 2015 Loudon Wainwright received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in Cardiff.
His latest album, Lifetime Achievement (2022 Story Sound), has 15 new and original songs and establishes his singular talent as our foremost six-string tragic comedian, not only undiminished but hitting new heights. The album was co-produced with Stewart Lerman (Last Man on Earth, I’d Rather Lead a Band) and Dick Connette, Loudon’s partner on his Grammy-winning High Wide & Handsome. The orchestration varies from solo performance to trio work with his longstanding musical cohorts, Chaim Tannenbaum and David Mansfield, to Nashville and Memphis-style big bands, to a full-blown string arrangement by Rob Moose (Bon Iver, Amos Lee, Paul Simon). On his latest, Loudon lives up to a legacy the New York Times calls “rich, complicated and often surprisingly dark,” sounding as engaged and passionate as ever, richly displaying what NPR calls his “unmatched wit and wisdom.”
Loudon puts his most recent achievement in the context of a lifetime of music-making this way: “When I made my first record for Atlantic in 1969. I was always saying, ‘I want to make a voice and guitar record, and I want it to be a record, not only a recording but a document that captures a moment.’ I was 21 and very serious, and I thought I’d be dead in four years. So I wanted to make something that would last. A testament. Now, fifty years later, I guess I still want to make a testament. I want to write a group of songs and get them down in the best possible way. And I like to think they might last a while.”
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