Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Talking Up Loudon Wainwright III

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Talking Up Loudon Wainwright III

Article excerpt

Over 45 years, Loudon Wainwright III's career has comprised everything from New York folkster to novelty singer-songwriter to a favorite of comedy's premier tastemaker.

The musician started in 1968, receiving the oft-used label of the "new Bob Dylan." Then he continued playing for four decades, scoring perhaps his biggest hit with the 1972 novelty song "Dead Skunk."

Now, to a certain generation, he may be best-known for his work with Judd Apatow, including playing the father on "Undeclared," and as the father of singers Rufus and Martha Wainwright.

Yet he's still putting out albums, including his newest, "Older Than My Old Man Now," which deals with his father, a Life magazine journalist, and death. The subject is a familiar one for Wainwright, having written about his father's death before on "History" and his mother's on "Last Man on Earth."

He's on tour promoting the album. In an interview, Mr. Wainwright talks family, Mr. Apatow and more. Here are excerpts.

Q.: Your father weighs heavily on this album. What influence did his personality and writing have on your own personality and writing?

A.: Of course, you always want to break away from your parents, and you always think, "I'm never going to be like that guy." What I've discovered is, you kind of wind up becoming your parents, which is also a cliche in itself. My father, despite the fact that he's been dead for over 25 years, he's been a huge influence on me. I'm still, as we've determined, writing about him. I think just by virtue of the fact that he was my parent, he was a big influence, but he was a very distinctive writer. He was a journalist primarily and he wrote in a clear, concise, beginning-middle-and-end way, and that's kind of the way I write my songs. With a few exceptions, there's nothing opaque or cryptic about my songs.

Q.: Do you think that the "confessional" label you've gotten over the years may have come from your father?

A.: Yeah. I think I maybe have a bit more of a wider confessional streak than he had. (Laughs) But that could be generational -- in his time, you didn't expose yourself maybe as much. And I'm a performer, too. …

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