Thursday, January 18, 2007

Some people make scrapbooks, others write songs

Wherein I thought he was great in Undeclared


Mommytracksblog is compiling a list of parenting songs. ALOTT5MA links to it and I left a couple comments and songs there; and a good song is buried at the end of this post. Someone mentioned Loudon Wainwright's Rufus Was a Tit Man, which reminded me you could spend days analyzing parenting--both good and bad-- through the autobiographical songs of Loudon Wainwright III.

He's one of my favorite singers, and I thoroughly enjoy his shows, but he's probably not a great person. From a Guardian profile on the Wainwrights, Martha about her dad:
She has a more fractious relationship with her 58-year-old father, whom she has described as a man who wrote songs about his children instead of raising them. At concerts she sometimes introduces her visceral anthem Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole with the words, "This is a song about my dad."

Hard not to see her point. There are a number of his songs that are about her. In Loudon's Grown Man, she makes a vocal appearance on Father/Daughter Dialogue calling out him out:
Dearest Daddy with your songs
Do you hope to right your wrongs?
You can’t undo what has been done
To all your daughters and your son
The facts are in and we have found
That basically you’re not around
Dearest Daddy try as you might
All you are is just uptight

...and he weakly responds with:
Darling Daughter can’t you see
The guy singing the songs ain’t me
He’s someone people wish I was
What I can’t do this dude does

And if the songs seem slightly pat
I know life’s messier than that
They’re just songs and life is real
They’re just my version how I feel

Then there's That Hospital (from the same album), with a particularly uncomfortable passage about Martha:
I was there again 76
the wife was having a D&C
in the end she couldn't go through with it
so three left she and me
and that little girl who was born there
who escaped that scrape with fate
a months ago in Montreal I watched her graduate

I think he's getting off lucky if all Martha writes is BMFA. And--this is still from Grown Man; you could probably make a violent, bloody Opera based on the songs from Loudon/Rufus/Martha and half could come from this album---he clearly displays in a A Year that he learned nothing from his earlier children. I think I recall reading, during an article about Last Man on Earth, that he had reconciled with the mother and they were living together; but that was a long time ago. I wonder if family members have avoided Loudon throughout the years hoping not to embarrassingly end up in a song.

A Year,...a family song about the newest member of my family
The only time I've seen you was about a year ago
I was afraid to hold you but I wanted you to know
I touched your tiny perfect hand Before I went uptown
I didn't pick you up because I'd have to put you down

For reasons that don't make much sense and you won't understand
I've stayed away for your first year, it's sort of what I planned
I've been in your neighborhood, sometimes just blocks away
I didn't come to visit you because I couldn't stay

There was a baby on a plane maybe she was two
And she was smiling at me I was not sure what to do
I've kept my distance from you a year's much more than awhile
So I looked away from her too ashamed to smile.

When I saw you last year I knew that there was no mistake
Amazing things can happen why just look what life can make
But life can get so hard sometimes some feelings can't be tamed
And people get so angry frightened and ashamed

You've been a sort of secret for a year I've told but few
Although I'm sure that where you are so many must love you
I've passed by your window but haven't dared look in
Although I know I'd love you too I'm too scared to begin

Still, as dads go, that's still better than the father in the Violent Femmes' Country Death Song:
I led to her a hole
A deep black well
I said make a wish
Be sure and not tell
Close your eyes and count to seven
You know your poppa loves you
good children go to heaven
You know your poppa loves you
good children go to heaven
I gave her a push
I gave her a shove
I pushed with all my might
I pushed with all my love
I threw my child into a bottomless pit
She was screaming as she fell
But I never heard her hit

But is Loudon as involved in his children's lives as the father in Eminem's 97 Bonnie and Clyde:
we gonna take mommy for a wittle walk out on the pier
baby don't cry honey, don't get the wrong idea
mama's too sweepy to hear you screaming in her ear
that's why you can't get her to wake
but don't worry
da-da made a nice bed for mommy at the bottom of the lake
here, you wanna help da-da tie a rope around this rock
we'll tie it to her footsy, then we'll roll her off the dock
ready now, here we go, on the count of phree
1, 2, phree, weeeeeeee
there goes mama, spwashing in the water
no more fighting wit dad
no more restraining order
no more step da-da
no more brother
blow her kisses buh-bye
tell mommy you love her
now we'll go play in the sand, build a sand castle and junk
but first, just help dad with two more things out of the trunk

just. the. two. of. us...

That is one creepy song; especially when the only version I have is sung by Tori Amos. Anyway, back to Loudon Wainwright III. If all you've ever heard is Dead Skunk or I wish I was a lesbian, you've missed a lot of good songs and a lot of drama.

...Later...

Pulling out the vinyl, I'm looking at Loudon's Attempted Mustache from 1973. This is a good good parent song. If I'd of remembered this I'd of played it when my daughter was born. As it was, she came into the world with a Pogues CD blaring. Which isn't bad.

Dilated to Meet You
We're wondering when you will arrive
We're wondering what you'll be
We're wondering if you'll be a her
Or if you'll be a he

Maybe you'll arrive today
Perhaps tomorrow night
We're hoping you won't be hurt too much
And that you'll be alright

Life has a few unpleasantries
We may as well confess
we suppose you'll cry a lot
And that you'll be a mess

There is one thing that you should note well
Of this there is no doubt
You cannot go inside again
Once you have come out

Even though there's trouble
Even though there's fuss
We really think you'll like it here
We hope that you'll like us

3 Comments:

Blogger reader_iam said...

Bill of So Quoted: The single most underrated blogger I know.

Hands down.

1/19/2007 01:47:00 AM  
Blogger bill said...

Thanks! But that's probably good for about three months worth of writer's block. Or, more accurately, difficulty trying to cut and paste.

1/19/2007 04:57:00 AM  
Blogger bill said...

Bonus video links:

IWIWAL

Unrequited to the Nth Degree

Fanvid set to Martha wainwright's Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole. It has nothing to do with the song, so just close your eyes and listen.

1/19/2007 06:29:00 AM  

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