Pretty Things: A Rufus Wainwright Tribute

This year is the twentieth anniversary of Rufus Wainwright’s first (self-titled) album, and I just wanted to write a short and completely inadequate tribute to this incredibly talented musician who has helped me get through some really difficult times during those twenty years.

I have been lucky enough to see him perform a number of times now, and even got to meet him after one show I went to with my sister (I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I could barely speak and instead gave him a long hand written letter telling him how much his music had meant to me – as though of you who have read my Comiccon post may remember, this seems to be how I roll when I meet my heroes!) He is one of the artists I always return to, almost reflexively, especially in those moments of darkness. His creativity, honesty, beauty, talent, sense of humor and absolutely unique and brilliant way of expressing himself never fails to help heal the broken pieces of my heart.

His albums have come with me to treatment numerous times – I know I couldn’t have made it through the Ottawa General Hospital’s Eating Disorders Program back in 2002 without his album, Poses, which I borrowed from my sister and played over and over again until I worried I would break it. Songs like Grey Gardens, Greek Song, Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk, California and the titular Poses, helped make the seemingly unbearable days bearable and to this day I still know all the words by heart.

In good times and bad, his music and the creative inspiration he has given me has never been far away and his music has played an undeniably huge role in my life – it’s helped me get through my parents splitting up, my mother’s subsequent death, my own failed relationships and it has especially helped in my recovery from eating disorders, self harm and addiction, through all of that, his music was there and helped me come out of it okay.

So this little tribute is really a thank you, that is admittedly a little disjointed and can never come close to putting all of this gratitude and all of these emotions into words. Thank you, Rufus, for sharing your talent, sense of humour and brutal beauty with all of us. Thank you for the twenty years you helped me in more ways than I can ever count or put into words, for singing me through my recovery from all kinds of terrible things, for helping me think more creatively when it came to writing my own poetry and lyrics, for being (along with David Bowie) one of the very few role models I had growing up that helped me accept myself as I was and made me proud to be part of the LGBTQ+ community, thank you for being you, and sharing that with us, and congratulations on an amazing twenty years! Heck, well over twenty years when you consider the brief (but incredibly musical) role in 1988’s Tommy Tricker and the Stamp Traveler, a film my younger sisters and I watched repeatedly for years!

I could end this post with dozens of videos, dozens of songs, dozens of examples ranging from absolutely heart wrenching and emotional to absolutely ridiculous, but I won’t. It’s been impossible to narrow it down to just a few as it is, that simply categorize the time frames mentioned. With an artist like Rufus Wainwright, it can be impossible to pick a favourite song, I know it’s that way for me at least, I have a long list of favourites and I gravitate toward one or another based on mood, or nostalgia, or whatever it is I’m going through at the time. So I think I’ll end this post with two videos, one song, Dinner At Eight, that rarely fails to make me cry, and Oh What a World, which is a fabulous song and so much fun to see performed live.

Beyond that, all I can say is, if you liked any of this, please go out and explore his amazing back catalogue of music, both his original songs and the covers he has done, they’re all amazing and worth checking out – says this incredibly and very obviously biased chick!

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One thought on “Pretty Things: A Rufus Wainwright Tribute

  1. That’s a really nice tribute. Man, I wish there were a really effective way to let special musicians know how they’ve helped us through life. The letter you gave him surely must have touched him. I was lucky enough to see Rufus’ performance at Glasto in 2013. Yikes, that was five years ago already. I also love his version of Across the Universe on youtube, with Sean Lennon and Moby. And didn’t Rufus’ mom start that annual day without electricity? I would love to take part in that. Not everything Rufus sings is my cup of tea, but some things are, so I’m going to check out the songs you’ve suggested.

    Liked by 1 person

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