Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Dufus Ain't Right

I have to admit I have mixed feelings about Rufus Wainwright's up-coming tribute to Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall. In case you don't know: On June 10 or therabouts, singer Wainwright will recreate Judy Garland's legendary performance at Carnegie Hall in 1961. There was a lengthy article on Wainwright's tribute to Judy published in the Sunday "Style" section (ironic, considering his outfit in the accompanying pic) of the New York Times.

While I think it's great that people remember and honor on that day Miss Garland, one of the truly great performers of the 20th century, captured in that performance at Carnegie Hall as an artist at the height of her powers. If you're unfamiliar with the album, you live a sad, sorry existence unconnected with the best that life has to offer. It's mostly not, but in some ways it is a shame that Garland is so powerfully associated with gay culture. I think a lot of straight people--and a lot of gay people, too--avoid listening to her stuff because they think it's "too gay" or something... or that if they listen to it they'll turn gay or people will think they're way gay. That's too bad. (It'd be as if people didn't want to look at a Picasso for fear people would think they were Spanish.) It's a weird association, and one people should just get over. Breathe deep. Conquer it. (In the end, it's their loss, anyway.)

I think Wainwright is the wrong, wrong, wrong person to do this. (I guess he's just the one who thought of it). And he's a singer I've always wanted to like, felt I SHOULD like. Wainwright's voice is sooooo boring, unable to convey even the slightest hint of emotion (contrast that to Garland who was--sometimes spookily--able to go inside herself, surprise the audience with what came out, a journey that was always fascinating for those who are willing to take it with her: her concerts were collaborative in that way, a cooperation between artist and audience). And his confessional style seems totally phony and trying so hard to be soulful it's ultimately pretty soulless. He has a pleasant, but undistinguished, tenor voice and that's it. It's the Ken doll of voices. It could be worse, I suppose. Rod Stewart might be taking it on. Or Bette Midler. But still. I think it's worse than fool-hardy to try and recreate the concert. It's like sitting down to rewrite "Anna Karenina" as a tribute to Tolstoy. Dude, like, someone already wrote it?

It's a project that's doomed to failure. You can't re-sing Judy at Carnegie Hall. Why bother?

Plus he shamelessly ripped off her poster art, adding some words above his head that might have been more appropriately used to describe someone (anyone) else. World's greatest entertainer? Really? Is that what entertainment's come to? Remind me to bring a book.

Judy's poster



The NYT article says that Wainwright's outfits for the show will be made by designers Viktor & Rolf. At least he'll look good.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

our enthusiasm will not wain and all will be right with the world after the concert.

9:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just don't go watch the performance. No need to offend anyone. There have been greater sins committed than a recreation of a performance HONORING someone else.

1:31 AM  
Blogger FilmStocker said...

Hey, Rufus?

Anyway, I didn't mean to offend anyone. I've got a strong opinion, expressed strongly, and that's it.

And I never meant to imply this was the greatest sin ever committed or that the world would go all wrong after the concert.

It's an aesthetic error in my not-so-humble-opinion. There is a fine line between honoring someone and ripping them off, and I think he's getting dangeroulsy close to that territory. Don't mess with Judy!

10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said (as usual) Film Stock!!

8:36 PM  

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