NEW YORK (AP) -- Loudon Wainwright III's family is just like any other, except they write songs about their tangled relationships and then share their frustrations with their audiences. Wainwright welcomed his son, Rufus, into the world with a jealous ditty about breast-feeding and his daughter with "Pretty Little Martha" at the time he was separating from their mother, Canadian folk singer Kate McGarrigle. Years later, his children would get back at their father in their own songs like Rufus' "Dinner at Eight." Filmmaker Judd Apatow — in his liner notes to Wainwright's 2007 CD "Strange Weirdos" — says he was drawn to the songwriter's music because it was "both comedic and painfully truthful" and asked him to do his first film score ever for "Knocked Up." He also cast Wainwright as an obstetrician in the 2007 movie. While working on the score, Wainwright became inspired to revisit songs from his first four albums, from 1970 to 1973. On his latest CD, "Recovery," the 62-year-old Wainwright finds new meaning and relevance in songs written by his 20-something self. AP: How do you feel about your children's musical careers? Wainwright: It works as that kind of cautionary tale to them, but it was written in 1971 before I had any kids. The person I was singing to was myself. Rufus has made five albums and Martha's made two ... so they're used to the life. It's not like I'm saying watch out. Their mothers are musicians. They were in a sense born to be in the business. For years Lucy (his daughter by Suzzy Roche of The Roches) was completely reticent but ... then about three years ago it just kicked in, and Lucy's touring and writing. I have another daughter, Alexandra, who's 15. She's taking piano lessons so watch out. AP: How do you feel about writing songs about family members? Wainwright: The family members, your parents, your kids, your sister, your brother. ... They had the strongest impact on you, so why wouldn't you write about them? Divorce is a good subject matter. Pain is a good subject matter. There's pain and conflict in family life, and ... that's what drama is. You can be John Denver and talk about how beautiful the mountains are and that works if you're John Denver. I suspect there was a little more pain and conflict in his life which he probably didn't want to sing about. AP: Have the years healed some of the resentments? Wainwright: We have our relationships with each other and we're working on them, but we're all members of a family and we love each other and we (annoy each other). And what we choose to do is yak about it on stage, to sing it in songs. ... I think the audiences are kind of enjoying it. All the stuff we're singing about happens to the audience. AP: How did the connection with Judd Apatow come about? Wainwright: He became a fan and used to see me play here in New York. About seven years ago, he got in touch with me about an acting job in a television show "Undeclared." That was the first time we had actually met and we got to know each other. He gave me another acting job in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." AP: How did you and producer Joe Henry come up with the idea of revisiting the songs from your earliest 1970s albums? Wainwright: With the exception of two songs, all the original recordings of the songs on "Recovery" were done with just my voice and guitar. Joe and I had been working with this band in L.A. ... and Joe thought it might be really interesting to record some of these old songs with the band. AP: What did you mean by calling the album "Recovery"? Wainwright: It's a play on words about recovering a song. I had been performing some of the songs, but some of them I had forgotten about and had to relearn. The first reaction upon recovering them was, "Wow these are pretty good songs considering they were written by such a young guy." "New Paint" is one of the songs I had to relearn. It's a song about being worried about being old. Even though I wrote it when I was 25, I've always been worrying about mortality. The line "Sometimes I feel ugly and old" works when you're 25 ... but it has a different weight now. ———— On the Net: http://www.lw3.com
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