Bobby Sings Rufus

Yeah, there's our boy genius with the big burns.

Man, it's hard to do a Rufus Wainwright song but I'm not scared. I'm never scared of music. They can't make me be.

"Poses" Dig it. Full-on Red Lady.

The challenge of this song, as with a lot of Rufus stuff, is making the unique perspective of the lyric fly for me. It's not because he's flameriffic but rather because when you're somewhat estrogen-challenged like me lines like "all these poses, such beautiful poses/make any boy feel like picking up roses..." can be hard to deliver. I'm much more of a linebacker than a Rimbaud, unfortunately.

Hell with it. I'll just go a little mumbly when I do the nancying lines live. The music is too good, the room for interpretation is too wide and too generous to ignore. "Poses" is the title track from Wainwright's vinegary, autumnal '02 record that got me hooked on the guy. The song, as with much of his stuff, is about a half-step removed from an opera ballad. The main instrumental rhythm figure, an ostinato I-X-V-X-V in the bass, is a classic opera comp that we've all heard in "Carmen" and "Barber Of Seville".

The detailed orchestra-pit classicism of his chamber-pop arrangement is a bear to encapsulate on a keyboard. This took a solid week of rote before I could even track this rudimentary version. Just achieving the manual independence to get the main two-handed rhythm figure going was seizure-inducing, never mind mastering all the subtle variations of it that move us through the various I's, IV's and V's.

I should have done it on a piano but I don't happen to own one and my samples just never seem to cut it. Tracking it on th' Rhodes pulls it into another sphere and gives it a music-boxy vintageness that appealed to me. I try to never adjust my Rhodes too perfectly. I love the way the harp support buzzes on the B above middle C and how some notes are rounder than others and how some of the low notes pull sharp as the tine stops vibrating from the hammer strike. Damn thing's noisy, too, isn't it? I bet Rufus would dig it, though- he's no stranger to the Black Lady.

Anyway, as I try to build my repertoire as a catholic-lower-c lounge lizard I'm excruciatingly aware of the need to have material that forces a little virtuosity out of my sorry fingers every now and then on some level. I can't hustle crap. I don't have that skill. If I'm not feeling it I can't sell it. Nine times out of ten I find solo performances pretty damn boring. It's asking a lot and I hate to ask too much. I come from a discipline where you assume you have someone's attention for about 5 seconds and if you don't give them something crazy they're going to flip on over to South Park. I don't need a lot of skill and flash but I need to feel a lot of confidence from a performer in order to get with the suspended disbelief.

"Poses" by Rufus Wainwright. Let's kick this fucker over.


Anonymous cleek said...

clap clap clap

well done, sir

7:21 AM  
Blogger Blowing Shit Up With Gas said...

"The song...is about a half-step removed from an opera ballad."

Yeah, or from a piece out of a broadway musical. I could easily picture an actor on a dark stage singing his heart out to the audience. (Ever done any work in the theater?)

I hear what you're saying about performer confidence ... that's why I don't think you'll really mumble the "nancying lines."

Great tune, BL... Thanks!

10:58 AM  
Blogger XTCfan said...



1:15 PM  
Blogger Bobby Lightfoot said...

Yeah, kooky, huh? Th' "tenth" step of th' scale is just a third an octave above the regular third. It's sort of a bass nomenclature from jazz. You'd never use it in a chord name because it'd just be a third, but the "tenth" needed its own name for the purposes of describing that huge leap.

BTW it's awesome to see yez back in th' roles.

1:44 PM  
Blogger Larry Jones said...

It's not just about the sideburns. Kid's got some awesome eyelashes, too.

3:56 PM  
Blogger XTCfan said...

BTW it's awesome to see yez back in th' roles

I missed you desperately ... work's been a beeyatch (so's my boss), and I figured it was time for a little of th' Bobby humor in my life...

5:20 PM  
Anonymous Simon said...

Stunning. I actually prefer this over the original, since the softer sound of th' red lady accentuates the swooning vulnerability and regret of the lyrics.

BTW, his new album 'Release The Stars' is due on the 15 of May.

9:43 PM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

Finally got around to this. Gonna do the latest one now.

I guess I need to get his debut record first...

7:08 AM  

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