Thursday, September 04, 2008

Loudon Wainwright III and his Motel Blues


Growing up my dad used to barrel down roads and whenever that familiar smell of a freshly mown skunk rose into the nostrils he would start belting out a few lines from Loudon's 1972 novelty hit Dead Skunk. His routine never failed to get a kick out of me and it is one my fondest (if slightly vague) memories

"You Got Yer
Dead skunk in the middle of the road
Dead skunk in the middle of the road
You got yer dead skunk in the middle of the road
Stinkin' to high Heaven"

I was attending this years Mariposa Folk Festival and was aware that Loudon was playing. To my delight he was on the bill for the Saturday I attended. Mid-Afternoon I found myself over at the registration tent helping a friend sort out some ticket issues when I turn around to see Loudon Wainwright III registering at the artist tent. I've never had a true fanboy moment before and would not have ever guessed that an artist that I only sporadically know and listen to would inspire such a moment. Sure enough though I found myself (loudly) nudging my friends and exclaiming "look, it's Loudon Wainwright." He clearly heard and turned around. Face to face with him I offered a sheepish and respectful "Hello Mr. Wainwright." Moments later I was calling my amused father to tell him the blow-by-blow.

Mr. Wainwright recently released Recovery, a collection of updated songs from his early records. My favourite song of his, which appears on the new album, is Motel Blues. It originally appeared on his second album, Album II. A poignantly lonesome tale about a songwriter on the road convincing a young admirer to sleep with him. His voice has aged in time, less squeaky and vulnerable than it once was, helping to add an intelligenceand detachment to the new rendering.

Loudon Wainwright III - Motel Blues off Album II (1971) mp3
Loudon Wainwright III - Motel Blues off A Live One (1979) mp3
Loudon Wainwright III - Motel Blues off Recovery (2008) mp3