Loudon Wainwright III releases his new album Older Than My Old Man Now on Proper Records on the 16th April. As the new album’s title relates, Loudon is Older Than My Old Man Now – his old man, of course, being the late Loudon Wainwright, Jr., the esteemed Life Magazine columnist and senior editor.
“Singer-songwriter contemporaries of mine have recently taken to writing memoirs and autobiographies,” notes Wainwright. “I decided I would try to tell the story of my swinging life in a three and one-half minute song.”
He’s speaking specifically of the album’s lead track ‘The Here & the Now,’ which features jazz guitar great John Scofield and backing vocals from all four of Wainwright’s children – Rufus and Martha Wainwright, Lucy Wainwright Roche and Lexie Kelly Wainwright – as well as two of the three moms, Suzzy Roche and Ritamarie Kelly. But the album as a whole reflects the stage he’s reached in his life, and as he so wryly puts it, the “death ‘n’ decay” that inevitably accompanies it.
One track which cuts directly to the issue, ‘The Days That We Die,’ remarkably brings together three generations of Wainwright males.
“My Dad wrote the recitation, and I’m singing with No. 1 son Rufus,” says Wainwright. “That’s my grandson Arcangelo Albetta – Martha’s kid – I’m walking with on the beach photo that’s part of the CD artwork. Not only that, but Loudon Wainwright I is referenced in the title track, so in fact there are five generations represented on the album!”
Wainwright’s father, who died in 1988, also wrote the recitation that introduces the album’s title track. “Please believe me when I say that collaborating with my long gone progenitor at this late date felt pretty damn big,” says his son, who also lifted the opening line of ‘Double Lifetime’ from one of the notebooks that his father used to carry around with him to write in.
Another key family member who is no longer living, Wainwright’s ex-wife Kate McGarrigle (the mother of Rufus and Martha), is represented by ‘Over The Hill’ – “the one song we wrote together, way back in 1975.” Martha Wainwright accompanies her father vocally on the track, as does multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Chaim Tannenbaum, his “musical sidekick and sounding board” for over 40 years. Suzzy Roche returns to sing on “10,” and even Wainwright’s lab/pit/chow mix Harry, who’s been featured (in the lyrics) in a number of his songs in the last few years, appears on “Ghost Blues” and the bonus download track for the album “No Tomorrow.”
But Older Than My Old Man Now, which was produced by Dick Connette (producer of Wainwright’s 2009 Grammy-winning High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project), boasts stellar participants other than family.
“One voice singing a lot about death ‘n’ decay can be a bit wearing so Dick and I brought in other singers to help with the heavy lifting,” says Wainwright. “The venerable Chris Smither testifies with me on ‘Somebody Else,’ for which High Wide & Handsome alum Rob Moose wrote the string arrangement. Barry Humphries, a.k.a. Dame Edna Everage, does a duet with me on ‘I Remember Sex.’ He and I were romantically linked in two episodes of Ally McBeal a few years back, and I’ve been besotted ever since. There is no greater living and performing legend than Barry Humphries, for my money. And he’s even older than I am!”