Loudon Wainwright III: Recovery


Loudon Wainwright III is one of those guys you either love, or you’ve never heard of.  Being hailed as just another new Bob Dylan in the early ’70s, he has since carved out a completely separate niche for himself and has amassed over twenty albums without ever really breaking into the mainstream.  Still, he’s collected a solid core of fans over those years and has been getting some recent, public acclaim probably due to his connection with comedy king Judd Apatow (The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up), having scored 2007’s hit Knocked Up and appearing as a regular in Apatow’s underrated and short lived show Undeclared

While Wainwright wasn’t launched onto the cover of Rolling Stone, it nevertheless gave a younger generation access to an underrated folk hero, singing not about war and peace, but (very) openly about his personal life.  Thus, Wainwright puts it all on the table and masterfully blends humor, sympathy, empathy and embarrassment in such an original way that laughter and tears are inextricable in the Wainwright canon.  Due to his longevity as a performer and his growth and maturity as a writer, he decided to revisit some of his older catalogue and collected 13 gems from his first four albums made during the 70’s and decided to "remake" them as an older man and abandoning his acoustic approach for a more fleshed out sound. 
The idea was seeded during the making of Strange Weirdos: Music from and Inspired by the film Knocked Up, mostly at Joe Henry’s insistence (who produced both albums) and what they ended up with was Recovery.  The title is definitely tongue-in-cheek because Wainwright never actually lost anything that needs “recovering.”  If anything, he’s just gotten better over the years and Strange Weirdos stands as one of the best original albums he’s ever made. 

Recovery continues his growth as a performer.  For those familiar with Wainwright’s work it’s an album that illustrates his best work is still ahead of him and for those unfamiliar with him, it will introduce them to a singer/songwriter possessing an unapologetic wit and a knack for good melodies.  Besides showcasing how Wainwright’s voice has surprisingly matured, it perfectly portrays a man well into his middle years recalling his younger days.  "School Days," (the first song on his first album) is a tale of a young, arrogant boy recalling his previous conquests.  Back then it came off as satirical, but now he’s able to add more of a sympathetic longing for those days as he howls "I was truth, I was the way." 

The humor is rarely lacking within Wainwright’s songs and it gives him the ability to tackle tough subjects with a touch of lightheartedness that lets some air out of the bubble without bursting it completely.  It’s a gift few have as he is able to make you feel as if he’s your friend and by telling you his darkest secrets, he let’s you know that everything’s ok. Nobody’s perfect and one day they’ll be the stories that made you who you are.

Related Content

Recent Posts

New to Glide

Keep up-to-date with Glide