A Conversation with Loudon Wainwright
PUREMUSIC: Hi, is this Loudon?
LOUDON WAINWRIGHT III: It sure is.
PM: Hi, Loudon. This is Frank Goodman from Puremusic. How are you doing?
LW: Pretty good, Frank. How are you?
PM: Very good. You got a few minutes for us?
PM: Thanks so much. Man, that's a great new record.
LW: Oh, good. Glad you feel that way about it, Frank.
PM: I just thought it was amazing. It had been a little while since I heard a Loudon record. And geez, you just get better every record.
LW: The guy I just spoke to, whose name will go unmentioned, started off the interview by saying, "Well, I haven't heard the album yet, but let's talk."
PM: Oh, I hate that!
LW: Oh, boy, you think you hate it.
PM: That's awful.
LW: I had a hard time not hanging up on him. So I'm pleased that you listened to it, and took the trouble to do so, and I'm very pleased that you like it.
PM: Let's say a half dozen times this morning alone.
LW: All right!
PM: Not only are the songs fantastic, but I'm just, as a singer songwriter, amazed by the way you work a room.
LW: Well, thank you.
PM: I mean, there's such a tremendous wealth of experience there to do it like that. I'll say out front, too, that a good friend of mine in town is an old friend of yours, Tom Mitchell.
LW: Oh, yeah, Tom. You're down in Nashville, then.
LW: I just saw Tom the last time I was down there, in fact.
PM: Right. And I happened to be out of town, or I would have been at that bar passing the guitar around with you.
LW: Yeah, that was a fun night.
PM: So I may be privy, just for background's sake, of course, to various anecdotes of considerable vintage.
LW: Okay. But I know that Tom wouldn't have spilled all the beans.
PM: No, no. He ain't like that.
So on the new record, I thought that the sequencing alone was masterful. Who's responsible for that?
LW: Well, Stewart Lerman and I produced the record. Stewart was the producer on my last record, Last Man on Earth.
LW: And we just spent a lot of hours going through a lot of stuff trying to find the sequence, where the pieces of the puzzle fit. And he's a good guy to bounce off of. So I'd have to say that he and I did it.
PM: I mean, not only was it exquisitely layered between the serious and the humorous songs, but ending with "The Home Stretch" and "Men," oh, that was really something. I ended up with my head shaking slowly in my hands.
LW: Yeah, it's a strong ending, I think. And after all these years of making these things--records or CDs, whatever you want to call them--I think sequencing is quite important. I know that now, of course, you can shuffle songs on a CD, and now you can buy just one song. But I'm of the old school, and that is that there's a little journey that takes place for that hour. And so sequencing is very important.
PM: That's a good point. Although I might, if I'm making a mix CD, as they call it, just pull a song or two off somebody's record, it wouldn't occur to me to record a whole CD and change the order of the songs as they happen. Because for those of us who make records, it's like, hey, we actually put a little thought into that sequence.
LW: Yeah, definitely.
PM: As life goes, would you call this a reasonably rosy period for you?
LW: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think it is a good time. One of the reasons the record that I made, Last Man on Earth, had a kind of serious tone to it, let's say--
PM: For good reason. [It was made after his mother passed away.]
LW: Yeah, for very good reasonsserious and hopefully not dour. But this record, one of the reasons that we wanted to call it So Damn Happy, aside from the fact that there's a tune on the album with that title, was that we wanted to herald that it's lighter in tone. And there are some serious songs in ityou mentioned "Men," and there are a couple of other ones toobut there's some completely silly stuff, too, which I certainly hopefully never will forego entirely.
PM: Definitely not.
LW: So yeah, it's a good time, and a lighter time, and I'm doing fine. continue