LOUDON WAINWRIGHT III: A biography in song

Steve Guttenberg writes:  Even when Loudon Wainwright III (left in photo with Ramblin' Jack Elliot) was a young man he was writing autobiographical songs, and his old themes of family, sex, and death resonate more deeply on his new record, Older Than My Old Man Now. He usually performs solo, armed with just an acoustic guitar or a banjo, but most of his recordings present more heavily produced versions of LWIII's music. When I chatted with LWIII in late April I wanted to explore that dichotomy and how those transformations take place.

Steve Guttenberg: The on-stage Loudon is a very different Loudon than the one I hear on records.

Loudon Wainwright III: It's two different things. In clubs people are drinking and you're there to entertain them, but if they're in their car or sitting in front of their speakers that's a completely different trip. Performing on stage feels very different than a recording studio.

Guttenberg: Your records sound very different from one to the next, I'm curious about the role your producers play in determining how a record comes together.

Wainwright: I can't blame my bad records on my producers, but lately I've been working with some good people, like my friend Dick Connette, and Joe Henry, he's a wonderful producer. I produced my first album, it was just a voice and guitar record, but it took seven months to make, which just goes to show what an exacting producer I was. The third album had a hit single "Dead Skunk," and that one had a big band and that producer, the late Tommy Kaye, did a great job. Then I met Bob Johnston and went down to Nashville and did a record with him. When I was dropped by my third major label, Arista, I had to start over from scratch.

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