Promoted inhouse. Reviewed Jan. 11, 1996. Promoting his 15th album — and third for Charisma/Virgin — in 25 years, Loudon Wainwright III looked and felt right at home at the Troubadour, glancing around the old folk music mecca and reminiscing about the night in 1972 (it was a James Taylor show) when he drank several white Russians, vomited in the balcony “… and groped Danny O’Keefe’s girlfriend.” Chances are that O’Keefe has a new girlfriend (or wife) by now, but Wainwright doesn’t seem to have changed a bit. He remains, however, folk music’s resident smart aleck, with a unique, gleefully manic delivery.
Thursday’s 90-minute set included several songs from “Grown Man,” the new album, most impressively the title song (“You’ll be his princess,” he advises a girl on the verge of romance, “just remember, his mother is queen”) and “I Wish I Was a Lesbian,” a more graphic follow-up — from a woman’s point of view — to Jill Sobule’s recent “I Kissed a Girl.”
At his best, Wainwright’s wry tales require no relevant experience to comprehend — you don’t have to be a parent to appreciate “Be Careful, There’s a Baby in the House”– though some songs require explanation. A tale (and subsequent song) about finding an alcoholic guitarist in a London park seemed to be leading somewhere, but didn’t. More successful was another new one, “What Gives?” decrying nostalgia for past-their-prime rock stars –“…Gerry has a pacemaker.”
Succumbing fairly cheerfully to audience requests, Wainwright pulled out a few old numbers, though not his biggest hit, “Dead Skunk.” As an encore, he performed “A Man Is Just a Handful of Dust,” a quiet song written in a ’50s folk idiom by his father, best known as a Life magazine essayist.