Loudon Wainwright III

Posted in Georgia History, GSU photo archive, Music by chamblee54 on March 15, 2016

The New Yorker has a website, with some cool stuff. One of them is a video of Loudon Wainwright III, singing a song about some guy named Krugman. It seems to PG that Mr. Wainwright might be a good subject for a tribute.

Loudon Wainwright III is the son of a man who wrote for Life magazine, who was known as Loudon Wainwright Jr. The son of III is named Rufus, which is Albanian for Fifth. Either he skipped a level, likes to drink, or this is a coincidence. Rufus Wainwright is a musician also, with lots of units sold, and a stay or two in rehab.

The official LWIII website has a biography page, so if you care about such things you can go there. He writes little acoustic songs, many of which are hilarious. Early in his career, “Dead Skunk” became a hit. It became the song he was known for, but it was far from the best thing he did.

In addition to the Krugman song, there are three you tubes of Wainwright songs. A 95 year old lady dances to “Dead Skunk”. Johnny Cash does “The man who could not cry”, showing a bit of Grecian Formula. (This video is no longer available, and is replaced by the poet himself. Mr. Wainwright is growing old and bald in honest fashion, even after shaving the puppy beard of his younger days.) There is a performance of “Motel Blues”, by the man. A fourth video, about climate change, is included at the end for those in the audience with entirely too much free time.

PG has seen Loudon Wainwright III in concert twice. In December of 1973, LWIII played at the Great Southeast Music Hall. He had a backup band, for some reason, and PG was not overwhelmed. After the show, PG talked to a high school classmate, and they went riding on the dirt roads behind the music hall smoking reefer.

In May of 1982, LWIII played a show by himself at a concert hall on North Decatur Road, which was formerly a Colonial grocery store, and the Texas Tea Room. A friend of PG’s had a story to tell about the TTR.
“Maybe, the venue was called the Texas Tea Room—or the Texas something-or-another. I recall that I heard some male duo there. When I heard them, they were past their prime in terms of popularity, but perhaps they were making some sort of comeback. I keep trying to remember who I heard. I also remember going in there one time with short-shorts on. The shorts were totally inappropriate for the setting, but I had been somewhere else and just stopped by the hall (we’ll continue to call it the Texas Tea Room) on a whim. I vaguely remember some guy giving me grief about my attire. I don’t think I went home with him, and I’m sure that was an excellent decision.”
On that May evening 34 years ago, LWIII was spectacular. He had done a lot of shows in the previous 9 years, and had learned a few things about performing. The lines that got a good response were repeated, and played slow enough to understand the lyrics. This is a problem for many lyric based performers…if you don’t know their music, you will not enjoy the show. With Wainwright, he sang slow and loud, and you could hear all the words. You knew why the crowd was laughing.

It is now 2016, and LWIII has not gone away. His records never did sell very well, and he sells his own product over the internet now. His hair is turning gray and falling out. The skunk has dried up, his bones crushed into powder by eighteen wheelers. The motel was shut down by the health department. A luxury condo building was built on the site.

This is a repost, with pictures from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”. The last picture is the Colonial store that became the Texas Tea Room. It is now a discount mattress store, and has not been torn down.


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