Sitting on the porch of his Long Island lockdown hideaway, serenaded by a local bird, Loudon Wainwright III reminds us that he was proclaimed “the first of the new Bob Dylans”. It helped me get a record deal but then it got to be a pain in the ass”. He still has a “reservoir of respect, admiration and awe” for the man and his work. “I dream about Dylan a lot. He is on, in and under my mind: the Muhammad Ali of songwriters.”
Loudon has seen Dylan in concert and been visited by him backstage after his own concerts. “I was headlining at Max’s Kansas City. He came with Doug Sahm. They were both wearing cowboy hats. Bob said, “I really like that ‘Dead Skunk’ song”. He has worked with everyone from producer Bob Johnston and Nashville cats Kenny Buttrey, Ron Cornelius and Hargus “Pig” Robbins to David Mansfield, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and good buddy Christopher Guest (“he does a great Bob Dylan impression”). Despite his admiration, he stopped listening for many years after John Wesley Harding. “I was too threatened by his greatness”.
Meet the man who happily called himself - along with Bruce Springsteen, John Prine and Steve Forbert - one of Bob Dylan’s “dumbass kid brothers”.
After two previous nominations, singer/songwriter/actor Loudon Wainwright III won a Grammy for 2009’s High, Wide And Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project. His songs have been covered by Johnny Cash, Bonnie Raitt, Earl Scruggs, Mose Allison, Big Star, Norma Waterson and his son Rufus Wainwright. Loudon’s many albums include Attempted Mustache, Fame and Wealth, I’m Alright, Therapy, History, Grown Man, Little Ship, Last Man On Earth, So Damn Happy, Recovery, Strange Weirdos, Older Than My Old Man Now, Haven’t Got The Blues (Yet) and Years In The The Making. His latest album, backed by Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, is I’d Rather Lead A Band.
Loudon’s film acting credits include Knocked Up (for which he also wrote the soundtrack), The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Scorsese’s The Aviator. TV acting credits include a recurring role in M*A*S*H, as well as his Netflix Special Surviving Twin.
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Recorded 8th July 2020
This show is part of Pantheon Podcasts.