I said to the music director at WNCW that this was Rufus Wainwright’s version of Steely Dan’s ‘Hey Nineteen’…
But that is beside point (even if I personally like the connection). What is the point? Rufus Wainwright has this way of writing songs that are slightly… snarky/sarcastic/embittered without actually being (or feeling) bitter at all. I don’t know what you’d call that in the vast lexicon of musical genre-titles but it is one hell of an awesome talent.
Always hitting right at the heart, sometimes in the most verbally abusive way, and always sounding so lovely that you come back for more.
Tuesday Evening Melody: “Going to a Town” by Rufus Wainwright
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Rufus 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.