The Remarkable Rufus Wainwright: A Revered Diva and Flawed Hero

The Remarkable Rufus Wainwright: A Revered Diva and Flawed Hero

Rufus Wainwright has been nominated for best International Male Solo Artist at the Brit Music Awards to be held at Earls Court in London on Wednesday night, February 20, 2008. He has been nominated for the single Going to a Town, from his album, Release the Stars (2007). Described by Robbie Williams as “the talent I want to turn into,” he comes from an acclaimed family of folk musicians (his mother is Kate McGarrigle and his father is Loudon Wainwright III).

He has been befriended by artists ranging from Elton John to Debbie Harry and Neil Tennant. However, relatively early in his musical career, expressions of intense, flamboyant extravagance and narcissistic self-absorption drove Wainwright to the very edge of self-destruction. His career almost ended abruptly because of his substance abuse, which led him to enter rehab in 2002. Recalling those days, he has described how the journey back to sanity, back to normality, has been pretty tough for him.

It is because of those harrowing past experiences that Wainwright is desperate not to waste his chances all over again. Reviewers who have watched him get ready to perform now have remarked that looking at him prepare you see a diva, but you also see a perfectionist. One of the reasons other musicians have come to like him so much is because he is a flawed hero. At London’s Brit Awards ceremony, Wainwright will be in his element. Mika, who is expected to walk away with several awards, is one of Wainwright’s most dedicated fans.

Rufus Wainwright: Going to a Town

The music video presented below is a version of Hallelujah, which was originally performed by Leonard Cohen. It was recorded live at the Tribute Concert for Leonard Cohen that was held in Australia at the Sydney Opera House in 2005. The recording features Rufus Wainwright, his sister Martha and friend, Joan Wasser. This particular performance of Hallelujah is remarkably touching for its candid emotional tone of simple, natural dignity.

Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright, Joan Wasser: Hallelujah

The final video shown below is from a documentary that aired on England’s BBC Channel 4 in 2005. This particular clip from the documentary focuses largely upon the period of time related to Wainwright’s substance abuse difficulties, the people who helped him get through that wearisome phase, and his re-emergence from the dark and deadly pit of escape back into the real world.

All I Want: A Portrait of Rufus Wainwright

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Recognizing Our Changing World

Recognizing Our Changing World

“The avoidance of reality is much the same everywhere, and has much the same consequences.  The Russian people were taught for years that they were better off than everybody else, and propaganda posters showed Russian families sitting down to abundant meal while the proletariat of other countries starved in the gutter.  Meanwhile the workers in the western countries were so much better off than those of the U.S.S.R. that non-contact between Soviet citizens and outsiders had to be a guiding principle of policy.  Then, as a result of the war, millions of ordinary Russians penetrated far into Europe, and when they return home the original avoidance of reality will inevitably be paid for in frictions of various kinds.  The Germans and the Japanese lost the war quite largely because their rulers were unable to see facts which were plain to any dispassionate eye.  To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.  One thing that helps toward it is to keep a diary, or, at any rate, to keep some kind of record of one’s opinions about important events.  Otherwise, when some particularly absurd belief is exploded by events, one may simply forget that one ever held it.  Political predictions are usually wrong.  But even when one makes a correct one, to discover why one was right can be very illuminating.  In general, one is only right when either wish or fear coincides with reality.”

George Orwell, 1946.

A World of Change

Rufus Wainwright: Across the Universe

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