I already have a host of blogs (RMP, CTP and Greg Robson) but figured why not join the fray here.
So without further ado, here's my debut post.
Rufus Wainwright's "Dinner at Eight" has been stuck in my head all day. I never know how or why the jukebox in my head grabs these random songs but today this is the song my head is celebrating. If you are unaware of "Dinner at Eight," it's a must-listen. The lyrics are poignant and bittersweet, as he chronicles an argument with his parents, and wags his finger at his father for years of neglect. At one point he even blames himself for causing the fight, and his simple admission, "Actually it was probably me who started it all up again," is something I think all of us can relate to. His candid confession sounds so heartfelt and it's that one that hits me everytime.
Though the words are simple they are provocative. They manage to say something so profound by saying so little. The song isn't dressed up with imagery and doesn't read like a novel, but rather a journal or a memoir. And for some reason, this song has always gotten me. "Dinner at Eight" appeared on his album Want One, which for me remains the best album released since the new millenium. I know Radiohead's In Rainbows is great and Merriwether Post Pavilion is terrific, and Viva La Vida, and blah blah blah, we could go on forever. Want One took Rufus Wainwright's penchant for melodic songcraft to a whole new level. He added theatrical, baroque elements and fused classical music with a brass horn section, stunning strings and nothing short of unbridled audacity. And even with all these touches, it still sounded like an earnest singer/songwriter effort. Who else can pull that off?
There isn't a single song on Want One that doesn't move me in some way. Whether it's the triumphant opener "Oh What a World," the waltzy "14th Street," the theatrical "Harvester of Hearts," or the aforementioned "Dinner at Eight," these songs are just bar none incredible. There was a period of roughly four to five months in 2003 and 2004, respectively, where this album was all I listened to. I can honestly say in many years of listening to music, no one album has captured my attention that much. I've listened to it close to 100 times since its release and I still get chills at so many points. Is it my favorite album of all time? No. Son Volt's Trace, Counting Crow's August and Everything After and Hootie and the Blowfish's Cracked Rear View all co-share top-billing for that honor, but it's definitely in my Top 10, and probably in my Top 5. There's music and then there's this. All I can say is, we are lucky to have a person like Rufus among our ranks in the music industry.
After this album dropped, he went on to release Want Two a year later, which served as a companion work. Originally planned to be released as a double disc, he went ahead with this approach. While Want Two has it's moments, it doesn't touch the grandeur of this. Please make a point of picking up this album up and falling in love with it. It will truly touch you.