Loudon Wainwright III 

Nov. 6, The Auditorium, Eureka Springs+

click to enlarge LOUDON LIVE: Wainwright onstage elsewhere, with his daughter Lucy Roche.
  • LOUDON LIVE: Wainwright onstage elsewhere, with his daughter Lucy Roche.

On Friday, along with a friend, I took an impromptu drive up the entire length of our state to sit in a cozy auditorium that wasn't even a third full. We were probably the youngest people in attendance by a good 20 years and got a fair number of curious looks for it. But it was well worth it to see Loudon Wainwright III, a man who once described himself in song as Bob Dylan's “dumb-ass kid brother.” 

Outside, on the sidewalk of the historical district before and after the show, I found myself huddled with three fellow Loudon devotees (who were much closer to the man of the night's age than I) whose descriptions of the notorious self-deprecator were much more laudatory.   

“The man's never written a bad song! Ever! Some are better than others and a few are much better than a few others, but none are bad or, for that matter, irredeemable.”

“Take ‘Unrequited,'” one said of his 1975 album. “What are you gonna compare it to?  ‘Blood on the Tracks?' Everyone was too busy flipping out on Bob releasing that one a few months earlier to realize that Loudon's break-up album is 10 times richer than Dylan's!”

They compared him to Woody Allen, John Irving, Billy Collins and even Jonathan Swift. One even went so far as to say that Wainwright's canon in its entirety has a higher “batting average” than any of those four men. That kind of hyperbole is reserved, even commonplace, for manic young men in their 20s; hearing it from an affluent 65-year old is a much rarer prospect. 

For the uninitiated, the majority of Wainwright's songs are simultaneously hilarious and devastating narratives in which his ego, id, libido, liver and idiot masculinity provide the language. In turn, he inspires a strange brand of dedication in normally skeptical people who have the five aforementioned attributes in spades and a crooked sense of humor to boot.  

So how was the show? It was just good enough to make the leg-numbing drive. Despite the thin crowd, what Wainwright's first concert in Arkansas lacked it numbers it more than made up for in enthusiasm, even though Loudon eschewed his earlier, inarguable classics (“The Swimming Song,” “Hotel Blues,” “School Days”) and tended to stay on this side of 1985. As for his newest, unrecorded songs, he's traded in his familiar themes of dysfunctional family, sexual misadventure and smirking ennui for political satire. His cure for recession depression? Buy a ukulele. You can't play the blues on it. Try it. It's impossible! That's the exact type of signature Loudon Wainwright III Non-Advice my new retiree friends and I will happily bank on. 


From the ArkTimes store


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by J.T. Tarpley

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Music Reviews

  • Cher in North Little Rock

    March 28, Verizon Arena
    • Apr 3, 2014
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers at Verizon

    The Red Hot Chili Peppers took a slightly different musical path to its May induction into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame than most of their fellow honorees.
    • Oct 31, 2012
  • Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Sept. 30

    The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra opened its season Saturday night with a return visit by the 28-year-old violin virtuoso Augustin Hadelich, who had appeared with the orchestra in the Beethoven concerto two years ago.
    • Oct 3, 2012
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: On "Beyond Scared Straight"

    • I need to find a scared straight program for my 14 yr old daughter here…

    • on July 20, 2017

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation