Rufus Says He’s an Asshole, but…

I’ve had a bunch of Loudon Wainwright III vinyl for about 10 years.  Maybe listened to one album one time.  I’m a big fan of the rest of the family – Rufus, his famous son, Rufus’ sister, Martha, and the McGarrigle Sisters, one of whom is Loudon’s ex-wife and Rufus’ mother.  I’ve always heard how great he is.  I loved him on M*A*S*H when I was a teenager – he made occasional cameos as a folk singin’ doctor who stayed with Hawkeye and B.J. in “the swamp.”  On those episodes, scenes would be framed with the funny-sad songs he wrote for the show.  But later in life, I just never quite got over the hump with him.  He is an artist I respect and admire, but really dont’ want to listen to –  like Lou Reed after Transformer.

I know his song “Motel Blues” from hearing Alex Chilton do it on one of those mid-90’s Big Star rereleased live and rarity albums, of which, there were too many.  And I love Big Star, but I digress.  I liked the song fine, but  I didn’t “get it.”  I recently found a version of Loudon doing it while looking for Rufus Wainwright stuff, and was truly moved.  Chilton missed the self-loathing and desperation in his version.  The audience thinks it’s supposed to funny, and then has no idea what to think.  And that’s what they call “Art.”  

He may very well be an asshole, but he is a talented asshole.

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