A memoir by the influential Grammy Award-winning singer and actor -- son of journalist Loudon Wainwright, husband of Kate McGarrigle and Suzy Roche, and father of musicians Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright, and Lucy Wainwright Roche -- a captivating meditation on relationships and creativity from the person at the center of one of America's great musical families.
With a career spanning over four decades, Loudon Wainwright III has established himself as one of the most enduring singer-songwriters who emerged from the sixties still performing today. Not only does he perform regularly across the country, but he remains a sought after character actor, having appeared in such movies as The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Sleepwalk with Me; and TV series ranging from M*A*S*H to Person of Interest to Parks and Recreation.
There is probably no songwriter who so blatantly puts himself in his songs: himself, his father, his mother, his children, his ex-wives. His lyrics are personal and, while often laugh out loud funny, can cut to the bone in dagger-like fashion. In this long-awaited memoir, Wainwright reveals all: the family history his lyrics have references; the fractured relationships in the Wainwright family throughout generations: the alcoholism, the affairs, the competitiveness; the rancor -- as well as the joy, the closeness, the successes, the fun. Loudon traces his career back to the early days of folk and rock and roll, his first studio album in 1969, and reflects on the relationships that have influenced his songwriting, notably with his late ex-wife, the renowned folk singer Kate McGarrigle; with his father, who was a well-known writer and journalist in the '50s and '60s for Life magazine; and with his three children, all of whom went into the family business.
The book is very much about being a son -- a relationship that dominates so many of his songs. But it is also about being a parent, and now a grandfather. Loudon's song lyrics run throughout the book, amplifying his prose and showing his fans the connections between those lyrics and real life. Wainwright also includes excerpts and selections from his father's brilliant essays -- and really re-establishes his father as a major essayist of his era. A poignant meditation on family and creativity, Wainwright's memoir will thrill fans, readers, and anyone who appreciates the intersection of music and life.
ONE OF ROLLING STONE'S TEN BEST MUSIC BOOKS OF 2017 ONE OF NO DEPRESSION'S BEST BOOKS OF 2017
"A hilariously candid memoir." --Andy Greene, Rolling Stone
"Wainwright is funny, self-deprecating, poignantly insightful, and this is the best memoir of the year." --Henry Carrigan, No Depression
"The singer-songwriter has always poured his family life into his lyrics; here, with humor and insight, he elaborates. Alcoholism, infidelities, fights, fierce devotion--it's engrossing." --People
"Instead of inventing a mythos, Wainwright simply wrote some excellent songs -- rich, complicated, sometimes dorky (one of his biggest hits is the 1972 novelty tune "Dead Skunk"), marked by unexpected wordplay and often surprisingly dark. His new memoir is all of these things, too. It's a funny, rueful thing to consume ... Wainwright does not go easy on himself in this book ... And yet, as he woos his memories back, there's a great deal fondness in this book, too. Like the best songs of the Wainwright-McGarrigle-Roche clan, this straightforward book makes your heart wobble on its axis. And it sends you back to the songs." --Dwight Garner, The New York Times
"Liner Notes delves into death, decay, and other delights."--Sloane Crosley, Vanity Fair
"Wainwright is an engaging and witty memoirist... Those who can laugh at life while making a messy success of it--or is that a successful mess?--have something to impart. And Wainwright may be relieved to know that, whether or not he found the process torturous, his writing is no stone drag." --Tony Fletcher, Wall Street Journal
"Wainwright writes prose with the same wit and honesty that distinguish his songs.... [A]n excellent book." --Graeme Thomson, Uncut
"Wainwright's memoir is packed with the wit and erudition of the music he's been making for close to 50 years. An always reliably forthright and articulate singer-songwriter, he loses none of his charm or style when setting his guitar down and putting pen to paper.... Liner Notes sees Wainwright practically bounding across a tightrope over a magnificent life that can switch from therapy session to stand-up routine at the drop of a plectrum. One of the most engrossing and informative and music biographies of recent times." --Terry Staunton, Record Collector (four-star review)
"Liner Notes is, unsurprisingly, as good as its author's songs, with moments of sharp humor alternating with real-life pain, and vivid reflections on love, death, and the whole damn thing. Loudon Wainwright is a true original: not like anyone else, just as he set out to be." --Salman Rushdie
"I expected a memoir that reflected all I know to be true about Loudon: a raconteur with an acerbic, sometimes mordant wit, unapologetic even when full of regret, funny and acutely, sometimes horrifyingly, honest. I got that and more. He is unafraid and clear-eyed about the events of his life--and utterly engaging." --Rosanne Cash
"This book is as candid, moving, and hilarious as Loudon Wainwright's music." --Judd Apatow
"Loudon Wainwright writes without pulling punches about his life. In other writers, this confessional style can instantly repel, but Loudon succeeds by being scrupulously honest about everything, including himself. This is a moving, funny, and observant memoir--everything we would expect from one of the great musical talents of our time." --Richard Thompson
"Fans of the self-lacerating, painfully funny Wainwright III will find the memoir they want here... [and] will delight in how much more they can learn about a songwriter who has already revealed so much in his material. A very funny and candid memoir." --Kirkus Reviews
"Classic Wainwright." --June Sawyers, Booklist