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Attempted Mustache

Loudon Wainwright III

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Album Review

Following on the heels of the fluke success of Loudon Wainwright III's only hit single, "Dead Skunk," Attempted Mustache is an excellent encapsulation of all things Loudon. Even so, sales were disappointing, and Wainwright's audience did not expand beyond that of a small, loyal cult. The LP kicks off with "The Swimming Song," a tongue-in-cheek celebration full of clever lines, banjo pickin' and a touch of Doug Kershaw's Cajun fiddle. "A.M. World" reflects on life with a hit single, obviously written while "Dead Skunk" was climbing the charts. "Liza" is an a cappella folk song about childhood friend and classmate Liza Minnelli, who had recently won an Oscar for Cabaret. "I Am the Way" recasts Woody Guthrie's talking blues "New York Town," with Jesus Christ hanging out in Jerusalem proclaiming, "Every Son of God gets a little hard luck some time," and confessing, "Don't tell nobody but I kissed Magdalene." "Dilated to Meet You" is a welcome-to-the-world greeting card for a soon-to-be-born child, but on "Lullaby," the singer pleads with his son Rufus to "shut up and go to bed," complaining "you're a late night faucet that's got a drip." This album also includes the Wainwright classic "The Man Who Couldn't Cry," a lengthy short story set to music about a character who suffers all manner of tragedy and abuse, but is still incapable of showing emotion. Throughout Attempted Mustache, Loudon Wainwright III's droll, dry sense of humor is conveyed by his world-weary Everyman's voice, capturing small vignettes of life through a skewed, slightly left-of-center lens.

Customer Reviews

One of Wainwright's best early albums

This is a great place to start for people who are interested in exploring Wainwright's early recordings. It has several classic songs: "Lullaby" a song about desperation, frustration and self-pity that has a perfectly defeated melody to support its withering lyrics. "The Swimming Song" a suprisingly and delightfully direct and celebratory song from the generally acerbic and frequently facetious Wainwright. "Dilated to Meet You" is funny and charming song about anticipating a child's birth. "The Man Who Couldn't Cry" is one his best and bitterest jokes. Many of the other songs are nearly as good and the minor songs are more than listenable. Wainwright tends to sound best solo but this album as some of the best backing of any of his albums "Come a Long Way" a nice gentle country swing to it. Try this album out!


There's something wonderful in every track here: a dirty joke, a grumble about stardom, a break-up metaphor that catches you when you least expect it. But I'm giving this five starts because "The Swimming Song". A perfect metaphor for...well, that depends on the attentions of my loved ones, the definition of "grace", the temperature of the water at the deep end of the YMCA pool...

Songs that make me smile

Absolutely adore this song!


Born: September 5, 1946 in Chapel Hill, NC

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Loudon Wainwright III grew up in the town of Bedford in wealthy Westchester County north of New York City, the son of Loudon S. Wainwright Jr., a writer and editor at Life magazine and a direct descendant of colonial governor Peter Stuyvesant. Wainwright became a folk singer/songwriter in the late '60s, singing humorous and nakedly honest autobiographical songs. Signed to Atlantic Records, he recorded Album I (1970) and Album II (1971), accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, before switching to...
Full Bio

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