The smart-assed and occasionally profound singer-songwriter visits for an intimate show. Info/tix
Loudon Wainwright III has totally played into his image as a raffish and wisecracking singer-songwriter, so it's not quite unfair, even if it's reductive. I mean, right before the 2016 election he collaborated with Funny Or Die to make a Trump-baiting novelty song and video that hasn't aged very well. (The song, "I Had A Dream," speculates on all the crazy shit that would happen if Trump became president and, well, guess what.) So, he's probably not too worried about seriousing up the image he earned in the early 1970s with songs like "Dead Skunk" and (hoo boy) "Rufus Is A Tit Man." But there's always been a much more weighty thread to his work.
When he resists the lure of dad-joke-gone-too-far humor, Wainwright can deliver raw and disarming songs about memory, family, and loss. Both 1992's History and 2001's Last Man On Earth abound with examples and make good starting points for anyone who wants to get deeper into his work. History's "Sometimes I Forget" captures the massive absence of those small, day-to-day interactions with someone who's died, and on Last Man's "White Winos" Wainwright reminisces about drinking with his late mother and how grief impacts his own relationship with alcohol (maybe a little funny, but in this context pretty crushing). And of course, it's not always an either-or kind of deal: Wainwright used his playful side to surreal and unsettling effect on "The Man Who Couldn't Cry," one of his finest accomplishment as a songwriter and later covered by Johnny Cash. Ideally, the smart-assed and the somber will complement each other as Wainwright unpacks his songbook in this intimate Stoughton Opera House show. —Scott Gordon