Welcome to Off the Beaten Tracks, a gentle stroll through popular music’s backwaters calling in at rock, folk, country and other destinations that might have passed you by.
Our first selection is Your Mother And I by Loudon Wainwright III, a heart-rending warning from 1986 about the misery of divorce. Like all of Wainwright’s best work it is autobiographical, and concerns the break-up of the US singer’s marriage to fellow musician Kate McGarrigle. In song, he tells their young children Rufus and Martha that their parents are now living apart, and goes into the custody arrangements – ‘You’ll stay with her, I’ll visit you, At Christmas, on weekends, in the summertime too.’
The third verse is the most poignant and will strike a chord with divorced parents everywhere – ‘Your Mother and I will do all we can do, To work this thing out and to take care of you; Families get broken, I know it’s a shame, It’s nobody’s fault, you’re not to blame.’
The Wainwright family was indeed broken. Following the divorce, Kate developed cancer and died in 2010. Rufus and Martha both went on to become singer-songwriters – Rufus addressing his conflicted relationship with his father in the song Dinner at Eight; Martha delivering a no-holds-barred attack on Loudon in her composition Bloody Mother F***ing A**hole.
Loudon, now aged 71, continues to record and appear in concert; his onstage gurning and tomfoolery belying the deep sadness behind many of his lyrics.
So, hankies at the ready, here it is – Your Mother And I.