Friday, December 23, 2005

A One Man Guy
I want to talk up Rufus Wainwright who is just brilliant and for anyone who hasn’t heard him I recommend that you go out and buy “Want One” and “Want Two” immediately. Rufus is the son of the singer songwriter Loudon Wainwright III, and has a stormy relationship with his father which he has chronicled in the song “Dinner at Eight” off the “Want One” album. “Dinner at Eight” is a poignant tale of a father who walks out on his young child, “

“long ago, actually, in the drifting white snow you left me”

and it describes how the child is always trying to get back at the father for that betrayal.

No matter how strong
I'm gonna take you down
With one little stone
I'm gonna break you down
And see what you're worth
What you're really worth to me

But I want to focus on the song “One Man Guy” off the “Poses” album.

You might presume from the title, especially if you knew Rufus was gay, that “One Man Guy” was a tale of male monogamy. I think this is one of the connotations the song is playing with actually, but in fact it was written by his father who is of course straight and the song turns out to be about him.

Cause I'm a one man guy in the morning
Same in the afternoon
One man guy when the sun goes down
I whistle me a one man tune

However, there is a certain killer irony in Rufus covering his father’s song which is a paean to selfishness, especially with the lyric…

People depend on family and friends
And other folks to pull them through
I don't know why I'm a one man guy
Or why I'm a one man show
But these three cubic feet of bone –
and blood and meat are all I love and know

So I see the song as actually being a companion piece to “Dinner at Eight,” in that the son is trying to address the father using the very words that define his selfishness and therefore are also the rationalisation of his betrayal of Rufus. The song therefore is not so much of a homage but an accusation.

No comments: