Liner Notes: On Parents & Children, Exes & Excess, Death & Decay, & a Few of My Other Favorite Things (Hardcover)
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“This book is as candid, moving, and hilarious as Loudon Wainwright’s music.”
"Wainwright is an engaging and witty memoirist."
—Wall Street Journal
Loudon Wainwright III, the son of esteemed Life magazine columnist Loudon Wainwright, Jr., is the patriarch of one of America’s great musical families. He is the former husband of Kate McGarrigle and Suzzy Roche, and father of Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright, Lucy Wainwright Roche, and Lexie Kelly Wainwright. With a career spanning more than four decades, Wainwright has established himself as one of the most enduring singer-songwriters who emerged from the late 1960s. Not only does he perform regularly across America and in Europe, but he is a sought-after actor, having appeared in many movies and TV series.
There is probably no singer-songwriter who has so blatantly inserted himself into his songs. The songs can be laugh-out-loud funny, but they also can cut to the bone. In this memoir, Wainwright details the family history his lyrics have referenced and the fractured relationships among generations: the alcoholism, the infidelities, the competitiveness—as well as the closeness, the successes, and the joy. Wainwright reflects on the experiences that have influenced his work, including boarding school, the music business, swimming, macrobiotics, sex, incarceration, and something he calls Sir Walter Raleigh Syndrome.
Wainwright writes poignantly about being a son—a status that dominates many of his songs—but also about being a parent, a brother, and a grandfather. His lyrics are featured throughout the book, amplifying his prose and showing the connections between the songs and real life. Wainwright also includes selections from his father’s brilliant Life magazine columns—and, in so doing, reestablishes his father as a major essayist of his era. A funny and insightful meditation on family, inspiration, and art, Liner Notes will thrill fans, readers, and anyone who appreciates the intersection of music and life.
About the Author
Loudon Wainwright III is a singer-songwriter and actor. In 1968 he began to write songs, and in 1969 recorded his first album. Wainwright has recorded twenty-seven albums, including his 2010 Grammy Award–winning High, Wide, & Handsome. His songs have been covered by Johnny Cash, Mose Allison, Rufus Wainwright, Bonnie Raitt, and Earl Scruggs, among others. As an actor he has appeared on TV (M*A*S*H, Ally McBeal, Undeclared), in movies (Big Fish, The Aviator, Knocked Up), on Broadway (Pump Boys and Dinettes) and Off (Hot Lunch Apostles, Surviving Twin). “Mr. Wainwright wrings more human truth out of his contradiction than any other songwriter of his generation.” —The New York Times, Stephen Holden
ONE OF ROLLING STONE'S TEN BEST MUSIC BOOKS OF 2017
ONE OF NO DEPRESSION'S BEST BOOKS OF 2017
"A hilariously candid memoir." —Andy Greene, Rolling Stone
"Wainwright is funny, self-deprecating, poignantly insightful, and this is the best memoir of the year." —Henry Carrigan, No Depression
“The singer-songwriter has always poured his family life into his lyrics; here, with humor and insight, he elaborates. Alcoholism, infidelities, fights, fierce devotion—it’s engrossing.” —People
“Instead of inventing a mythos, Wainwright simply wrote some excellent songs — rich, complicated, sometimes dorky (one of his biggest hits is the 1972 novelty tune “Dead Skunk”), marked by unexpected wordplay and often surprisingly dark. His new memoir is all of these things, too. It’s a funny, rueful thing to consume … Wainwright does not go easy on himself in this book … And yet, as he woos his memories back, there’s a great deal fondness in this book, too. Like the best songs of the Wainwright-McGarrigle-Roche clan, this straightforward book makes your heart wobble on its axis. And it sends you back to the songs.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times
"Liner Notes delves into death, decay, and other delights."—Sloane Crosley, Vanity Fair
“Wainwright is an engaging and witty memoirist… Those who can laugh at life while making a messy success of it—or is that a successful mess?—have something to impart. And Wainwright may be relieved to know that, whether or not he found the process torturous, his writing is no stone drag.” —Tony Fletcher, Wall Street Journal
"Wainwright writes prose with the same wit and honesty that distinguish his songs.... [A]n excellent book." —Graeme Thomson, Uncut
“Wainwright’s memoir is packed with the wit and erudition of the music he’s been making for close to 50 years. An always reliably forthright and articulate singer-songwriter, he loses none of his charm or style when setting his guitar down and putting pen to paper…. Liner Notes sees Wainwright practically bounding across a tightrope over a magnificent life that can switch from therapy session to stand-up routine at the drop of a plectrum. One of the most engrossing and informative and music biographies of recent times.” —Terry Staunton, Record Collector (four-star review)
“Liner Notes is, unsurprisingly, as good as its author's songs, with moments of sharp humor alternating with real-life pain, and vivid reflections on love, death, and the whole damn thing. Loudon Wainwright is a true original: not like anyone else, just as he set out to be.” —Salman Rushdie
"I expected a memoir that reflected all I know to be true about Loudon: a raconteur with an acerbic, sometimes mordant wit, unapologetic even when full of regret, funny and acutely, sometimes horrifyingly, honest. I got that and more. He is unafraid and clear-eyed about the events of his life—and utterly engaging." —Rosanne Cash
“This book is as candid, moving, and hilarious as Loudon Wainwright’s music.” —Judd Apatow
“Loudon Wainwright writes without pulling punches about his life. In other writers, this confessional style can instantly repel, but Loudon succeeds by being scrupulously honest about everything, including himself. This is a moving, funny, and observant memoir—everything we would expect from one of the great musical talents of our time.” —Richard Thompson
"Fans of the self-lacerating, painfully funny Wainwright III will find the memoir they want here... [and] will delight in how much more they can learn about a songwriter who has already revealed so much in his material. A very funny and candid memoir." —Kirkus Reviews
"Classic Wainwright." —June Sawyers, Booklist
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