Singer, songwriter, actor and social commentator Loudon Wainwright III has now lived longer than his father, and appropriately enough has chosen to mark the occasion with a new album Older Than My Old Man Now. For someone who has claimed to be a "one-man kind of guy," Wainwright sought the help of a surprising number of friends and family members while making his new album, recording tracks with his children Martha, Rufus, and Lucy. He also enlisted ex-wife Suzzy Roche and father figures Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Barry "Dame Edna" Humphries. Even Wainwright's own late father gets involved when Wainwright reads one of his prose pieces.
"I've been playing the family card for a long time," Wainwright muses. "I've written about my kids, my parents, grandparents, and sister. . . . it certainly made sense to get the family members on the record. They all happen to be good singers, so that helps."
Signed to Atlantic Records in 1968 by the legendary Nesuhi Ertegun, Loudon was later lured to Columbia Records by Clive Davis and recorded his first hit, "Dead Skunk." His recording career now spans a total of 23 albums, including 2009's Grammy-winning "High Wide & Handsome." a musical tribute to Charlie Poole (1893-1931), the legendary, yet obscure NC singer and banjo player. The release was awarded "Album of the Year" status by Entertainment Weekly editor and NPR contributor Ken Tucker.
Wainwright has collaborated with songwriter /producer Joe Henry on the music for Judd Apatow's hit movie "Knocked Up", written music for the British theatrical adaptation of the Carl Hiaasen novel "Lucky You", and composed topical songs for NPR's "Morning Edition", "All Things Considered" and ABC's "Nightline."
Loudon's acting career includes an early recurring role as Capt. Calvin Spalding, the singing surgeon, in TV's M.A.S.H. and a stint in "Pump Boys & Dinettes" on Broadway, and more recent work in films directed by Hal Ashby, Tim Burton, Cameron Crowe, Martin Scorsese, Christopher Guest, and Judd Apatow. He also appeared as a regular in Apatow's critically acclaimed TV series "Undeclared."
With more than 40 years of songwriting and performing under his belt, Loudon has a wealth of material to draw upon, and an ever-sharpening wit that finds humor and wisdom in topics ranging from the profound to the mundane. And yes, perhaps a political song or two is to be expected in an election year.