How Old Are You

“These are not only questions I am asked by interviewers but questions I ask myself. It’s a combination of the interview thing and my own doubts about my career.”Loudon Wainwright III (285)

I Knew Your Mother

“My son, Rufus, turned 40 last July and I wrote it with that in mind.”Loudon Wainwright III (286)

Motel Blues

“I once sang ‘Motel Blues’, the one about the lonely singer looking for a girl to take back to his motel room, on a Women’s Liberation programme on a radio station in Chicago. The moderator was a very angry woman and she suggested that perhaps I ought to have my genitals removed. She reacted to it very strongly, in a very hostile way. And other people and other women have talked about that particular song and said that it’s good I can talk about it and… I don’t know. When I wrote it I wasn’t thinking about Women’s Liberation. I was thinking about motel blues.”Loudon Wainwright III (908)


“That song is about the difficulty of saying things to people. Singing is easier. For me anyway.”Loudon Wainwright III (909)

One Man Guy

“I don’t think I beat on myself too much in that song. It was written after I’d split up with Suzzie Roche. My life is pretty mundane. I’m not admitting to being a Nazi or even a… I was going to say a child-beater, but then I do have that song called ‘Hitting You’! I’m admitting to being selfish, to being an egomaniac, to drinking too much, to fooling around outside of a marriage, to being not as dutiful a father as I should have been. People suffer as a result of that behavior. Maybe that’s where I’m trying to expiate some guilt by mentioning all this in a song. Or maybe I’m proud of it and showing off. I don’t know. It’s part of the beat that I cover. My own self-loathing.”Loudon Wainwright III (909)
“I have nightmares about this kind of thing [performing on Songwriter’s Circle – Ed]. This is a song about that isolated view of mine, although Rich [Richard Thompson – Ed] knows it and he’s always welcome.”Loudon Wainwright III (496)


“It’s about the agony of the morning after, what it can feel like. (“Mine’s not so big/Yours sag a bit/… You’re trash and I’m scum/… if you can get wet/I’ll get along”). The litmus test is playing a new song live. If people laugh you know something’s working.”Loudon Wainwright III (909)

Clockwork Chartreuse

“I did get in trouble for a song called ‘Clockwork Chartreuse’ where I was singing “Let’s rape a co-ed” and shoot a guy in a wheelchair. It’s about violence: “I got the black belt, you got the gun”. The people in wheelchairs didn’t protest, they saw the irony and understood the song was about a psychopath, but women’s liberation… I performed at a folk festival “workshop” with five other singers — my idea of not a good time because I’m a stage-hog — and a group of 20 women stood up and shouted “We are protesting this man, he’s a sexist pig, his song ‘Clockwork Chartreuse'” — which I wasn’t singing — “encourages rape and the abuse of women!” They were hooted down but…”Loudon Wainwright III (909)

History (The Album)

“We didn’t fix it [the competitive relationship with his father who died in 1988 – Ed]. But when something big happens in my life I pretty much know the job is to say something about it. The songs that came out of it are on ‘History’. Yeah, it’s about mortality, time. Death. I’m still writing about him now.”Loudon Wainwright III (909)

Dead Man

“There’s a song called ‘Dead Man’ I wrote two years ago. This woman he’d [his father – Ed] been living with and I had to go through his things and I got this jacket with patched elbows and a fishing rod and… Of course, in these songs I’m also addressing my own impending death. My father and I are not the same person, but we might as well be. That’s a good thing because of the forgiveness factor. If I can forgive him I can forgive myself. Hope that isn’t too touchy-feely for you. [Loudon’s father died in 1988 – Ed].”Loudon Wainwright III (909)

Living Alone

“My best friend is my cleaning lady? I was looking at myself and saying, “You’re 51 and living alone, this is insane”.”Loudon Wainwright III (909)

Father/Daughter Dialogue

“It was a difficult time with my children. Rufus was at boarding school. There was a lot of conflict. Martha came down from Montreal and actually lived with me for a year and it was kind of a disaster. She was 14, it was a teenage thing. And she was two months old when Kate and I split up so I was somebody she’d seen summertime and Christmas; she didn’t know me at all and I didn’t really know her. So I wrote about it. In ‘Grown Man’ you have ‘Father/Daughter Dialogue’ where she and I actually discuss our feelings in song. Well, I wrote the song…”Loudon Wainwright III (909)