Puremusic Interview with Loudon Wainwright III

It was one of life's exciting coincidences. Already past the middle of July, I still didn't have my second of 2 interviews lined up for the August issue. That's really loose. I'd spent 10 days earlier in the month having fun in Miami Beach. JB's got an ocean view mondo condo on the water, in the heart of the South Beach action. I'd driven a truck full of stuff down from Phillly and was enjoying the fruits of my short-lived labors.

Got back to Nashville near mid month, and started thinking about who we'd like to have on the cover, who would look good or go well with Ty Baskette, and be a compelling conversation of a different nature. (As time wears on, even without advertisers, you think more about how your cover looks, and how the interviews differ and yet dovetail, things like that.)

Like the rest of life, a lot of it is simply timing: who's got a new record coming out and wants to talk about it enough to schedule interviews. Most artists consider them a real chore, you see, and many interviewers see that they are. We've often been told, and we're always gratified to hear, that our interviews sometimes feel or read a little differently than most.

A gang email crossed my desk from a publicist friend. It said that Loudon Wainwright III had a great new live record coming out. So here I'd been presented with an exciting possibility that coincided with an acute need. If only I could get him…one of the greatest singer songwriters of his generation, and father to one of the greatest of the succeeding one (the inimitable Rufus Wainwright). I have a close mutual friend in Nashville who's been a folk figure since the 60s, Tom Mitchell, and LW3 references abound among Tom's many funny stories, so I felt like I knew the guy a little already.

Received a copy of Loudon's soon to be released album, So Damn Happy, it's fabulous. Not just great songs, but he's a super funny master of the audience throughout, radically intelligent entertainment. The collection is culled from live performances at Largo in Los Angeles and The Mystic Theater in Petaluma, CA. The accompanists supreme on the disc are Van Dyke Parks on piano, Richard Thompson on guitar, David Mansfield on fiddle, guitar, and mandolin. Their contributions are stellar, off the scale. And Martha Wainwright, Loudon's daughter, also joins him for a duet on "You Never Phone." This is as good a live record from a singer songwriter as this writer can call to mind. At some point, come over to our Listen page and see what we mean. (The CD will be available from Sanctuary Records on 8/19.)

The artist has a lot going on, as the acting side of his life has also picked up in a major way. He had a near hit with FOX in a series called "Undeclared" and he appears in Tim Burton's upcoming film "Big Fish," with huge screen stars the likes of Ewan McGregor, Jessica Lange, Albert Finney, Danny DeVito, and Steve Buscemi. (Some of his past credits include Ally McBeal and M*A*S*H, and the film 28 Days, which featured Sandra Bullock.)

Some interviews are just more fun than others, and I enjoyed this one very much, he's a helluva guy. And now, without further ado…  continue to interview