Loudon Wainwright III announces his Lifetime Achievement

Loudon Wainwright III
Photograph by Shervin Lainez

Loudon Wainwright III has announced his new album Lifetime Achievement, to be released on August 19th.  His first album of new original songs since 2014’s Haven’t Got The Blues Yet, Lifetime Achievement finds LWIII in a state of deep reflection at age 75, over a set of fifteen recently written, insightful and incisive gems that he wasn’t even planning to pen.

Says Wainwright, “I remember when I made my first record for Atlantic in 1969. I was always saying, ‘I want it to be a record – not only a recording, but a document that captures a moment.’ I was 21 and very serious, and I thought I’d be dead in four years (laughs). So I wanted to make something that would last. A testament. Now, fifty years later, I guess I still want to make a testament. I want to write a group of songs and get them down in the best possible way. And I like to think they might last a while.”

‘Town & Country’ finds Wainwright returning to his beloved Gotham after an extended stay in the country, thrilling to the round-the-clock wailing of sirens, the masked masses, and uninvited dinner guests of the rodent variety. Over a soulful groove and a hot band, he frames the “city vs. country” argument in his own inimitable style:

My dear mother was afraid of the city, she said don’t go there Loudie, it’s shady and it’s shitty; She was raised in the country, what could that poor woman know? 
Father went to town, he was a working slob, getting into trouble was his other job; 
There’s plenty of trouble in the city, that’s why folks go.

Other album highlights include ‘Fam Vac’, a song about family vacations and the lived experience of Jean Paul Sartre’s famous observation that: “Hell is other people.”  Following a recurring theme, the song ‘Hell imagines a baseball diamond full of dictators.  While Wainwright’s masterful wit and humour is on full contemplative display, so is his lump-in-the-throat tenderness, as on the a cappella ‘One Wish’.

While many tracks are stripped down with just Wainwright and a guitar or light accompaniment, others are seasoned with horns, strings, lap steel and electric guitar work, featuring many of his frequent collaborators: Chaim Tannenbaum (vocals, banjo, harmonica), David Mansfield (violin, viola, mandolin, 12-string guitar, Weissenborn guitar, pedal steel), Tony Scherr (guitar and bass), Rich Pagano (drums, percussion), Jon Cowherd (Wurlitzer, organ), and others including a string arrangement by Rob Moose. It was recorded with two of his longtime producers, Dick Connette and Stewart Lerman.

After thirty albums, a Grammy, many film and TV credits, and songs recorded by such artists as Johnny Cash, Mose Allison, Bonnie Raitt and his son Rufus, Wainwright is perhaps our foremost six-string analyst and tragicomedian. And with Lifetime Achievement his “unmatched wit and wisdom” (NPR) has never been on sharper display. 

Wainwright’s most recent album was 2020’s I’d Rather Lead a Band, a set of American Songbook selections near and dear to his personal history, recorded with Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks. In the past few years Wainwright has also published a widely celebrated memoir, Liner Notes, as well as a box set titled Years in the Making which explores rarities, oddities and never-before-released recordings made throughout his tremendous 50-year career.

Artist’s website: https://www.lw3.com/

‘Town & Country’ – official video: