Loudon Wainwright :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview

Loudon Wainwright III can't help but look back lately. Last year, the 72-year-old songwriter released a memoir, Liner Notes: On Parents & Children, Exes & Excess, Death & Decay & a Few of My Other Favorite Things, and in 2018, he's followed it up with Years in the Making, a comprehensive boxset pairing live recordings, bootlegs, demos, covers, and live tracks with detailed notes, drawings, and ephemera from his personal archive. With characteristically grim wit, Wainwright sums up his recent retrospective work: "I have been looking over my shoulder for a long time, but the reality is that we are getting close to the big finish here." There's a laugh, but it's a knowing one.

As a new notch in his vast discography, Years in the Making is a testament to Wainwright's particular breed of fearlessness. Few songwriters can match his candid approach to writing about life, love, and generally wrecking things. But what makes his sardonic songs click — aside from the abundant humor coursing through them — is Wainwright's always apparent heart, which shines through his tenderest songs, especially those about his highly musical family, including his ex-wife Kate McGarrigle, their children Rufus Wainwright and Martha Wainwright, his former partner Suzzy Roche and their daughter Lucy Wainwright Roche. It's been "fun to go back and look at my life, my childhood, my parents, my romantic misadventures, my kids," Wainwright says.

Family guides Wainwright, and his new project, a theater piece titled Surviving Twin, which debuts on Netflix next month, finds him connecting to the work of his father, Loudon Wainwright Jr., a renowned writer known for his "The View from Here" column in Life Magazine, produced by Judd Apatow and directed by Christopher Guest. Sitting down with Aquarium Drunkard, he touched on how his personal life has informed his work, the process of digging into his "man cave" archives, and the terrifying time he got stoned with his mother. Surviving Twin will be available to stream on Netflix November 13th.

AD: Years in the Making pulls from a lot of very different sources. You’ve got home recordings, radio gigs, live recordings, and bootlegs. Did all this material come from your own archive?

Loudon Wainwright: A lot of it did. I had this little man cave thing in my house where I go down and try to work. There are boxes and boxes of cassettes, reel to reel stuff from the 70’s, old hard drives [down there]. So most of it came from my archive, as it were. It took three years to put it together, and I worked very closely with [producer] Dick Connette. He and I listened to a lot of stuff, and we made a list of winners, maybes, and no fucking ways, [guaging the] quality of the stuff.

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