Loudon Wainwright III, 'Strange Weirdos'
By Thomas Conner
© Chicago Sun-Times
Loudon Wainwright III
Rarely do the planets align in the production of movie music quite the way they did to produce this soundtrack to Judd Apatow's latest comedy, "Knocked Up." Because when you're looking for someone to write songs for a film about a star-crossed relationship born out of foolishness and resulting in a child that neither partner is quite prepared to deal with, well, Loudon Wainwright's your man. This is the guy who's been chronicling all of the above in his own life for nearly four decades now, including songs that could be featured in the sequel, songs such as "Be Careful There's a Baby in the House" and "Rufus Is a Tit Man."
Of course, Loudon's kids are another story. He's particularly had a difficult go of it with daughter Martha (a frequent backup to brother Rufus, now with her own solo album out), who joined him to sing the difficult "Father/Daughter Dialogue" and later wrote about him in, uh, "Bloody Mother F—-ing Ass——."
Suffice to say, Loudo's the family and relationship issues songwriter, and on this batch of typically wry songs — fleshed out from the mostly instrumental versions used as a score for the film — he's working with a crack band (including old pal Richard Thompson) and great collaborators (Greg Leisz, Van Dyke Parks and producer Joe Henry). The music is loose but professional, loping but determined, suitable to the alternating humor ("Grey in L.A.," a concert staple for a while, is a great antidote to that city's imposing sunniness) and sober examination ("Doin' the Math" is a new perspective on growing old).
The requisite touching moment, too, occurs in "Daughter," in which Loudon muses from the viewpoint of a father watching his daughter at play. "I lost every time I fought her," he sings. Is he talking about his own family? Has he ever not?
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These online "clips" reproduce a self-selection of my journalism (music etc) during the last 20+ years. It's a lotta stuff, but it only scratches the surface. I do not currently possess the time or resources to digitize the whole body of work. These posts are simply a bunch of pretty great days at the office.