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This Week's Forgotten Gem of the '80s - Loudon Wainwright III - "Thanksgiving"

By November 21, 2012

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LWIII-Therapyalbumcover.jpgAt 66 years old, the legendarily wry American folk/rock singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III sounds as good as ever. I can tell you that from direct experience based on my recent attendance at one of this enduring artist's one-man-and-his-guitar acoustic live shows. Of course, I wasn't surprised at the quality of Wainwright's performance - even if I've only been intimately familiar with his work for the past 15 years or so. Nevertheless, this is a quintessential singer-songwriter whose alternately high- and low-art approach has sustained an engaging career of more than 40 years and counting. Perhaps no songwriter alive deals with family issues with a more naked honesty and warts-and-all candor than Wainwright, which brings us in a neat and timely fashion to this week's feature.

Wainwright's 1989 LP Therapy has not proven to be one of his best remembered or most appreciated recordings, but it certainly features an insightful, emotionally unsparing look at the introductory holiday of the special season that is now officially upon us. "Thanksgiving" manages to combine wistfulness with bitter self-awareness on its way to dissecting one of the most painful and stress-inducing experiences imaginable: the family holiday dinner. Maybe that's a bit of an overstatement for you on a personal level, but Wainwright reminds us that if so, you're definitely one of the very lucky ones. A little advice straight from the artist for your holiday gathering: "On this auspicious occasion, this special family dinner, If I argue with a loved one, Lord please make me the winner."

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