“Unfollow the Rules”: Rufus Wainwright and the three-minute songs

Rufus himself says so. Trouble in Paradise, the opening song for his album Unfollow the Rules, something of the activist John Lennon from 1971. Think Power to the People : we walk there; the people’s choir sings the air. And then the melody comes home, and the certainties are less solid, we go from major to minor, as we go from affirmation to doubt: very Lennon process, too. ” But all you see is in fact just the armor / Don’t see me laughing with joy and the occasional sob Sings Rufus. ” There’s always trouble in paradise “He sums up tenderly in the chorus. A beautiful refrain easy to remember.

Easy to remember, Rufus Wainwright? Really ? Since when ? “I wanted to be more direct. Create beauty, but within a three-minute song. Unfollow the Rules, for me who has never followed rules, that means giving me a framework. Hence the mention of Lennon and a few other masters of conciseness in the exquisite: Brian Wilson, in particular. Yes to unexpected windings and detours, but on condition that the chorus is sung. You Ain’t Big could be Randy Newman angelically interpreted by Harry Nilsson. Damsel In Distress, with his vigorously strummed acoustic guitar, convinces in 10 seconds, like Neil Diamond.

I felt a great desire for clarity in the expression. I can be very obscure in my metaphors, you know?

In search of the perfect song

“There is the quintessence of John Lennon through the album Conceived “Comments Rufus to explain the” more collected “approach of his new disc, the first in eight years. “At times, the album Conceived, it’s sumptuous, like in jealous Guy, and at other times, the song Conceived is obviously the best example, it achieves the most perfect imaginable simplicity. Sometimes it’s simple AND sumptuous at the same time. I love this moment in John Lennon’s career. He is in all of his means, and he is free to be completely himself. You also get this impression when you listen to Sinatra from the late 1950s. It is big and it is totally effective, intimate and perfectly accessible. “

He adds: “I felt a great desire for clarity in the expression. I can be very obscure in my metaphors, you know? “Yes, we noticed that a little. We didn’t always understand, but the melodies irresistibly dragged us into the current; it was not a big deal. Still, there is something good to understand, without ceasing to feel. In Peaceful Afternoon, Rufus talks without getting stuck in the carpet flowers to her husband Jörn Weisbrodt [directeur artistique de All Arts et du festival torontois Luminato], celebrates their lasting union, which he wishes endlessly: “ Well it’s coming onto 13 years together babe / I pray that it’s the luck, a lucky lucky number […] And I pray that your face is the last I see / On a peaceful afternoon

The essentials in a robe

He will be 47 years old on July 22; it shows a little in the pepper and salt beard which has continued to grow on the screen of his Facebook page, window on the very baroque living room of their Californian house, where he has invited us since mid-March and the beginning of confinement to sing for us and comfort us as part of its Recitals dress. “I had an enchanted life, I did crazy and excessive things, and lived extraordinary experiences with fabulous people, but I treasure my happy marriage, my beautiful daughter, my solid health, my family, our house, and that’s the main thing. I did this album before the pandemic, but it was not going well with USA ; I say it loud enough in the song Hatred, and I consider that we must make room in the songs for the happiness that we live against all odds. To remind you that it is possible. “

And Rufus Wainwright, a little guy from Outremont and Saint-Sauveur, to rave about what is in front of him. “As we speak, from my window I see Laurel Canyon. Isn’t that an incredible chance? ” The song Damsel in Distress, it must be said, was inspired by Joni Mitchell, the one who lived ” in a very very very fine house In the hills of the Canyon. “Joni Mitchell’s records were not welcome with us. My mother, Kate, considered that she had renounced her folk origins. My mother was quite a purist. But, secretly, I listened to all of his work, and I made it known to Jörn, who became fan finished. “

Opposite Louise Brooks

And Rufus, enthusiastic on the phone, to share his passion for … Louise Brooks, the star of silent cinema. “It was for her that I wrote Songs for Lulu. I knew she had lived in Laurel Canyon in the 1920s, and since we live in a very old house, I kept the fantasy I lived in Louise Brooks’ house alive! I did some research to find out that her house is across from mine, on the other side of Laurel Canyon Boulevard. I see her every morning when I get up; isn’t it wonderful? I find it mystical. I still have a hell of a chance to live my confinement here … “

It gives perspective to the song that ends the album, Alone Time : “ I need a little alone time / A little dream time ” There is something to dream about, when you are close to the Louise Brooks ghost. “Life is always fascinating, it’s a question of look. “Last week at the legendary Paramour Theater, a real one ballroom, he played an acoustic version, with an orchestra, of the entire album. It is not yet tomorrow that he will present it in Montreal. “ But don’t worry “He sings in Alone Time. I’ll be back baby.

Unfollow the Rules

Rufus Wainwright, BMG
In store on July 10

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