Loudon Wainwright III – Older Than My Old Man Now

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Loudon Wainwright III
Loudon Wainwright III

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Older Than My Old Man Now is the title track of the twenty-second studio album by American singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III, released on April 17, 2012 on 2nd Story Sound Records.Described as “a gleefully morbid summing up of [Wainwright’s] life in which he ponders childhood, family history, aging and death,” the album is produced by High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project (2009) collaborator Dick Connette, and features contributions from each of Wainwright’s children.

The album’s title alludes to Wainwright’s father, Loudon Wainwright, Jr., who was aged sixty-three upon his death. Upon the album’s release, Wainwright noted, “When you’re sixty-five, everything seems to be somewhat in the rear-view, or at least in the side-view. Well, not everything, and hopefully your windshield wipers are still working.”

Regarding one of the album’s most prominent themes, death, Wainwright noted, “I’m also old enough to have a lot of friends that have died already, people I knew and was close to. The mother of my first two kids, Kate McGarrigle, died a couple of years ago. Friends, parents. So it becomes a powerful part of your life as you get older.” Wainwright elaborated, “The whole album is about, in a sense, the handwriting on the wall for all of us, and that’s been the situation with the songs I’ve written throughout my career. Whether it’s declining powers or family skirmishes or too much hanging out in the bar, this is all material that I’m assuming my audience knows about, and is going through. Or if they’re not going through it at the time, they’ll eventually get there.”

Two of the songs from the album, “Older Than My Old Man Now” and “The Days That We Die”, feature spoken word performances of prose written by Loudon Wainwright Jr. for Life magazine in the early 80s. Regarding his father’s influence on Older Than My Old Man Now and the inclusion of his writing, Wainwright noted, “He died in 1988, and I have powerful memories of him. He was a huge presence in my life, and we had difficulties… very typical father-son oedipal clashes, but he was a remarkable guy, and a fine writer. And that’s why I was so excited to be able to include some of his writing on the record, to bring him into the record. Both of my parents are dead, and in a way they’ve become bigger than ever, more important than ever. I don’t know why that is; maybe because I’m headed down that road myself. There are lots of wonderful old folk songs about how you’re going to join your parents on the other side. That remains to be seen, of course. But yeah, I was very happy to have Loudon Wainwright Junior on my album.” Following the album’s release, Wainwright subsequently added spoken word performances of his father’s writing into his live shows.

The track “Over the Hill” – which previously appeared as a bonus track on the CD reissue of Wainwright’s 1975 album, Unrequited – was initially a duet between Wainwright and his then-wife Kate McGarrigle, and appears here as a duet between Wainwright and his daughter Martha Wainwright. Wainwright stated, “Kate, who was the mother of my two older kids, was a very important person in my life. We didn’t hang out much in the last thirty years, but that doesn’t diminish the effect that she had on me. And certainly when she died two years ago it had a powerful effect on me. She was a big person in my life.”

Great record passed on to me by Lindsay.

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