Wainright does Garland in Carnegie Hall (interlude)

June 15, 2006

Martha Wainwright by Daniel Shiplacoff

(The gorgeous) Martha Wainwright: photo by Daniel Shiplacoff

Julia Shiplacoff picked up Daniel and me from the airport and drove us home. We were glad to be back in LA. And what was playing when we got in the car? It was Rufus’s “Greek Song” from POSES. I melted. Forgive me Rufus, but I would take YOUR music to a desert island and not a single one of the songs from the Garland show.

This does not diminish my happiness for this project one iota: I feel the same way about this project as I felt about k d lang’s collaboration with Tony Bennett. They are both invaluable experiences for Rufus and kd. But the material is from a different era and so the response will never be the same as when the songs originally were hot. The audience in 1961 knew most of those songs, so when they heard it, mass biochemical hot flashes took over the audience. Being the optimist that I am, I’m trusting the generation of Rufus lovers in their teens and twenties to get to know, and fall in love with this music.
I was not convinced that the majority of this audience knew much of the music. The chap from Chicago sitting in front of us knew every square inch of the Garland original, and he was my google god for the evening as well as lending us his binoculars.

As a professor of composition and as a fan, I’m thrilled to have Rufus drill this music into his musical core. The melodies, the chord progressions, the singing styles will serve as compost, er, inspiration for his future work. One thing Rufus will never be, I pray, is a James Taylor type-composer who keeps rewriting four or five songs for his whole career, to the approval of his audience. I hope that Rufus follows in the footsteps of songwriters who have said “screw you” to a public that wants them to keep churning out the same predictable product. I salute brave composers like Neil Young, and Stravinsky, and David Byrne, and Madonna, and k d lang, and Joni Mitchell: people who keep exploring, reinventing themselves, taking risks. Many people prefer a more sober and even keel same-ole same-ole output from a singer songwriter: I don’t. Keep taking risks Rufus. I like it.

[continued tomorrow: part 3]

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

DavidGilmore June 16, 2006 at 8:17 am

I didn’t book myself to go see this show because I’ve never seen Rufus perform live. I didn’t want my virginal Rufus experience to be him singing anything that was not his own. I am a very devoted listener of Rufus’ music and i agree with you that i hope he doesn’t turn into (i don’t think he could) someone like James Taylor or Jackson Brown, as much as i like the 1 or 2 songs they wrote.

Anyway, i loved hearing your thoughts about him. I opted to stay at home and hope that maybe i can catch this on HBO or something. Do you knwo if it was videotaped for broadcast??

– David Gilmore

Roger Bourland June 16, 2006 at 8:34 am

Thanks David, I’m not sure about PBS, but there will be a DVD and CD released, so you WILL get a chance to see and or hear the concert.

citrus June 16, 2006 at 8:40 am

Thoughtful review. Thank you for it. I have Judy’s CD and have loved it, though it has wained with age and years.

Fairyboy69 June 20, 2006 at 5:46 am

A note to David Gilmore – an unhappy one, I fear – it’s not yet entirely clear if the planned DVD is simply a movie of the concert, or that parts of the concert will feature in a broader documentary.

— sorry for being a bit late, we only home from NYC Sunday evening.

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