I feel like this is one of the most daunting topics I have had to write about so far. Because, as most of the musicians I love and talk about, I do not know Rufus Wainwright, and I do not want to pretend that I would be able to reveal something special about him that anyone else cannot find on the internet for themselves.
So, like the pathetic groupie that I turn into when I talk about Rufus to my embarassed friends, I will tell you about the Rufus Wainwright that I know through my virtual musical relationship with him.
It was not a direct discovery, but a long and winded courtship made of accidental findings and coincidences that spans across thirteen years of my life.
The first time I heard his voice was in the soundtrack of “Moulin Rouge!”, with his interpretation of “Complainte de la Butte”, which I used to always shamelessly skip while playing the CD at the age of eleven, favouring more catchy, up tempo pop songs. Therefore, although “Moulin Rouge!” was the movie that accompanied my teens, the voice of Rufus remained in my sub conscious.
It took me another ten years to find Rufus again, when in a composition lesson in College our teacher played us “Poses” from the homonym album. It was then that the intensity of his lyrics and the sophistication of his arrangements really captured my attention and imagination as a singer and young musician.
What is incredible to me is that only the year before, in 2009, Rufus was in Manchester for the premier of his Opera “Prima Donna”. That was the summer I moved to England to study music, and later in 2010 I moved Leeds, only a few miles from where my future idle was rehearsing his latest work.
In the past three years his music has always been part of my train journeys, lonely afternoons and and car sing-along ventures. Like nobody else Rufus Wainwright has seduced me with his direct, dramatic, crude, fragile and poetic way of pouring his life into his music, which I think is the highest aspiration of any artist. Listening and learning from him, even in an indirect way, always profoundly inspires me as a musician.
There are two small coincidences that assure me of the pre destination of my love for the music and the person that is Rufus Wainwright. The first is our Yorkshire connection: Leeds is where I learned about him and forged my life as a professional musician, and Manchester is where he brought to life his Opera. The knowledge of this connection was clear to me when I had the shocking experience of briefly meeting him after a show in Brescia this year. In his dressing room, amongst flowers and chocolate, I was able to detect a large box of “Yorkshire Gold” tea.
And the second coincidence, it is even more miraculous. At the age of eleven, at the same time I was listening to “Moulin Rouge!”, I spent my afternoons with my two twin best friends, who then grew up looking exactly like Rufus Wainwright.
Take a look at:
Rufus’ Pledgemusic campaign.
All of his music, buy it!
All of the interviews you can put your hands on.
Rufus talking about Yorkshire:
Grown up Rufus talking about everything:
Rufus on his family and influences:
Omg haha!! I didn’t know he lived in Yorkshire for a bit, my bf is from Huddersfield and we go there a couple times per year.
Also, my first taste of Rufus was also The Moulin Rouge! soundtrack. 😉
I know it’ s so weird to imagine him hidden in some cottage in the moors. To be honest I think that if I realised he was there at the time I would have gone mental and tracked him down and become officially a stalker.
I’d definitely have done the same.. Though I’d be too star struck to speak with him, the one time I got to meet him (after a show back in 2008) he asked me how I was doing and I only managed a strained “great”. Then while he was signing autographs I poked him in the arm and asked him for a photo. I’m still a bit embarrassed about it!
I met him briefly after a gig too. He must have taught I was an idiot, I just told him how amazing the gig was and that I was shaking out of excitement. Just another mental Italian woman…