🎧 Rufus Wainwright’s 5 acts (Take 5)

Listened Rufus Wainwright’s 5 acts from

Rufus Wainwright is one of the greatest voices of our time. Hailing from a dynasty of incredible songwriters in Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright III, his life has stories and then some. From the get go, Rufus’ 1998 debut album announced an artist who stood on his own two feet. He would make a handful more, before stepping out of the pop realm and into the classics; performing opera and Shakespearean sonnets on stage for a decade.

In 2020, he returned to his old stomping ground, and on the day he released his new album of pop songs, he joined me to Take 5. Rufus was at home in LA, so you’ll hear his new puppy yapping in the background, and the bubble of his fountain in the background. To be honest, the silver lining of this strange year has been that we’ve connected with so many amazing humans that we wouldn’t have otherwise. Going into their homes, as they open their record collections, and hearts. From Blondie in the backseat, to the genius of Joni, and a song that rings painfully true more than fifty years after it was written, this Take 5 is a life story of one magical maker.

Blondie – Heart of Glass

Nina Simone – My Baby Just Cares for Me

Joni Mitchell – Blue

Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill

Bob Dylan – A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall

Really enjoyed Rufus Wainwright’s Take 5 where all along the music comes first. This is epitomised by story of Wainwright spending a million dollars on his first album. This reminds me of the many tales where artists actually losing money in achieving some sort of greatness. For example, although Philip Glass is often known for Einstein on the Beach, it actually lost him a lot of money:

We hadn’t realized we were going to lose money that first night at the Met, and the next week as well. None of the thirty-five performances of Einstein had played to an empty seat, and still the tour had ended up in debt.

Both of us said to her, “Ninon, how did that happen? How could you do that to us?”

She was calm and obviously unrepentant. After we had gotten over our shock, she told us very simply, “Let me tell you something. You were both really unknown, and I knew that Einstein had to be seen. So I had no choice. I booked every performance below costs and you took a loss every night. Not so much, maybe two or three thousand for each showing. Over the four months, it just added up. I knew you would be in debt at the end, but I also knew that it would make your careers. Both of you.”

In the end, Ninon was right. But an immediate problem still faced us. To address it, we began by selling everything we could—drawings, music scores, equipment, the works. Some of our artist friends held an auction to raise money to help, but the Einstein debt dragged on for years.

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