In Which Loudon Wainwright Gets Hip


An interview with Loudon Wainwright III by Ed Condran

Rufus: not a tit man at all, as it turns out

It helps to be connected. Hot director-writer-producer Judd Apatow has helped resuscitate singer-songwriter-actor Loudon Wainwright III’s career. Apatow tapped Wainwright as an actor for his late, lamented and short-lived television series Undeclared and for his hit films The 40-Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up.

Apatow persuaded Wainwright to compose the soundtrack for the latter project, Strange Weirdos: Music From and Inspired by the Film Knocked Up. Wainwright, 60, talks about his resurgence, his famous progeny, Rufus and Martha Wainwright, and how hip replacement surgery has inspired him.

Q: How did you hook up with Judd Apatow?

A: About seven years ago my manager got a call from Judd’s company wondering if I would audition for a part in a television show he was getting ready to do called “Undeclared.” I wondered why they called. I had done some acting but wasn’t pursuing it at that point.

I found that Judd was a fan of mine when he was a teenager when he was growing up in Long Island. He came into New York City to see me. He saw me on TV during the ’70s on Mike Douglas and Merv Griffin. Judd thinks outside of the box and thought it would be cool if I played the dysfunctional father on “Undeclared.”

Q: Did Judd get the dysfunctional dad idea from Rufus and Martha, who have written thinly veiled songs about you as a father, which aren’t necessarily flattering?

A: I don’t know what to say to that except as a father you have your good days and bad days.

Q: Are all dads dysfunctional?

A: As far as I can tell, dads are “DD,” dysfunctional dads. But some days you’re clicking and some days you’re not. People are complicated.

Q: That’s exactly what Rufus says about you. He says that you’re complicated, brutally honest and severely hidden like most fathers, which is interesting since you bare all as a songwriter.

A: It’s easier to be open as a songwriter than as a person. There’s a certain safety when you’re onstage. It might seem scary since you’re on a stage and it’s dark, but it’s just the opposite. There’s truth in my show but it’s heightened truth for the stage. But reality is different.

Q: Rufus said that it’s difficult getting to know you.

A: Maybe he should work a little harder at it.

Q: But you must be proud of Rufus and Martha.

A: What’s great is when they take out that credit card and buy me dinner. That’s a magical moment.

Q: Each of you write some intensely personal songs, often inspired by each other.

A: For me, that’s easy. It’s like falling off a log. You write what you know.

Q: What’s a recent example of you writing what you know?

A: I wrote about my hip replacement. The song is called “Hip.”

Q: How is your hip?

A: Good. I’m walking around fine. I get wanded every time I go to the airport. It’s an intimacy I would rather forgo. You go through and the buzzer goes off and you say, “I need a male assist.”

Q: A male assist at the airport. That sounds like what Idaho Senator Larry Craig allegedly requested.

A: That’s right. There’s a big chunk of titanium in my leg. But it doesn’t slow me down. You’ll see when I come (to Sellersville). I’ll be playing songs that are newer, older and bluer, a potpourri.

A Whole Gang Of L.W. III Songs From His Album Attempted Moustache, and one from the Knocked Up soundtrack

Down Drinking At The Bar – Loudon Wainwright III: mp3

The Man Who Couldn’t Cry – Loudon Wainwright III: mp3

Lullaby – Loudon Wainwrigt III: mp3

Come A Long Way – Loudon Wainwright III: mp3

Nocturnal Stumblebutt – Loudon Wainwright III: mp3

I Am The Way – Loudon Wainwright III: mp3

Dilated To Meet You – Loudon Wainwright III: mp3

Daughter (Peter Blegvad cover) – Loudon Wainwright III: mp3

Molly Lambert is Senior Editor of This Recording. She loves Loudon and his spawn.

9 thoughts on “In Which Loudon Wainwright Gets Hip

  1. I’m kind of fascinated by this family, especially how they talk about each other in their songs (most specifically “Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole” by Martha, which she wrote about her dad).

  2. i find it interesting that rufus, martha and kate get along so well while loudon seems to be the one on the outside. Plus, the whole family is so candid to talk about their relationships with each other.


  3. once again loudon comes off as a jerk. any other father would be able to say they were proud of their children and what they have achieved.

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