During the time I was courting Shannon – clumsily, recklessly and completely (like some desperate, lovestruck teenager) – Rufus Wainwright’s first two albums meant everything to me. They were the soundtrack to all that I was going through. I absolutely wallowed in them.
What I love about his music, and about him, is the density of it all. The layers. The sense that there’s so much going on. There’s his voice, of course, which reaches for the operatic but is firmly rooted in popular music, in showtunes and in cabaret. A voice that’s also very real, very human and often very moving – helped by being served so well by clever and playful lyrics.
Similarly, while his music often strives for something grander than pop music it seems to surrender itself to the notion that, really, there’s nothing much grander than pop music. He reminds me a bit in this respect of Gerswhin – a kind of high-minded classical brilliance enjoying the fun and freedom found in Tin Pin Alley. That is, he’s not sitting there worrying about how he should really be making great art instead of pissing about with pop music – he knows that pop music is great art.
Still, for all that, I do find it difficult to pin him down. To pin my love for his music down. I was listening to his Poses album again last night and everything I felt all those years ago came flooding back. But it wasn’t a particular song or lyric or phrase – it was the overall thing. Again, I just wallowed in it.
Which is why it was difficult to choose a single song. In the end I went for Greek Song because of the melody. Or maybe it was the words. Or maybe it was simply for when he sings: “Come on, let’s go” – which spoke volumes to me when I was trying to convince Shannon to do just that.