I was listening to Rufus Wainwright on KUT this morning. He's playing two shows at the Paramount theater here in Austin, yesterday and today. The tickets were a little steep for my current state of brokeness, so I had to settle for a live set on the radio, which was short but intimate, and totally satisfying.
I've been a fan of Rufus's mother and aunt, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, for much longer than Rufus, since college I guess, and I was remembering Songs of the Civil War, an album somehow loosely associated with the Ken Burns Civil War series. I bought it on cassette because my turntable had stopped working and I didn't want to buy a new one because CDs were clearly on the ascendant, but I hadn't bought a CD player yet because I could play cassette tapes at home or on my Walkman. That would be like 1990, I guess?
Anyway, I wore that tape out, literally. As I remember, that and the Bristol Sessions reissue came out around the same time and were responsible for my big nosedive into country music in the early 90s.
And I didn't know it at the time, of course, but Rufus was singing on a couple of those songs with his family. I don't know what it is about these songs, this style of singing, these harmonies, that transport me more than any other music. I feel it deep in my bones.
(And, big surprise, there's Emmylou Harris. Back then, you could hardly buy a record that didn't have Emmylou on it, bless her heart.)