Strange Weirdos: Music From And Inspired By The Film Knocked Up
REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/01/2009
Who woulda thunk it? In the copious liner notes to Strange Weirdos, Judd Apatow talks about how much of a fan he has always been of the work of quirky, iconoclastic American folk singer Loudon Wainwright III: “It has always been important to me to stay connected to Loudon's work because it is a powerful reminder to me that I must always be honest, funny, and true to myself. If I had never been exposed to Loudon I would probably just be writing fantastic dick jokes.”
Wow. That's heavy stuff. Needless to say, Apatow has used Wainwright’s music and acting abilities in several projects, including 2007’s Knocked Up. I'll be honest; I haven't seen the movie, though I really want to. Doesn't matter, though; one of the good things about Strange Weirdos – and there's a lot of them – is that you don't have to have seen the movie; it stands alone as a well-crafted, bitterly humorous, emotional piece of music.
I have been listening to a lot of LWIII lately; perhaps at forty-one I'm finally starting to get his music. He sings about life, and on Strange Weirdos he provides us with a series of moments in time, a string of snapshots that revolve loosely around home, parenting, and the painful alchemy of becoming an adult. Wainwright admits children don't come with instruction manuals (his own parenting skills may have led his daughter, Martha, to write the song “Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole”) and life rarely goes as planned.
On this disc, Wainwright goes from celebratory (“Feels So Good”) to angry (“Lullaby”) to desperate (“You Can't Fail me Now”) to shudderingly bitter and hopeless (“Doin’ The Math,” the darkest song written about growing old since Rush’s “Losing It”). Instrumentals provided by Joe Henry flesh out the songs, providing time for reflection before you plunge again into the complexity of LWIII's sound.
I'm only sorry I didn't review this CD sooner. Maybe there is a time for everything, and at least right now Strange Weirdos speaks to me. I recommend it highly.