Wednesday, 20 January 2010

RIP Kate McGarrigle

While my love affair has primarily been with her son Rufus Wainwright over the last five or six years, and subsequently her daughter, Rufus' sister, Martha Wainwright, it is impossible to love these two and know their music and stories without knowing about Kate. Rufus especially talks highly of his mother (she did, after all, never have a song like Dinner At Eight written about her), and her battle with cancer was widely spoken of after she was diagnosed during his putting together of his most recent studio album, Release The Stars.

She was a fairly major folk star, together with her sister Anna McGarrigle, in the 1970s, tumultuously married to Loudon Wainwright III for a few years, another folk star who has recently come back into the spotlight both through his children's rising status and his work on such things as the soundtrack to Knocked Up. Over the last decade or so she has, however, been primarily known as the matriarch of this extraordinary musical family.

I was lucky to see Kate for the first (and, unknown to me at the time, last) time at the Christmas spectacular A Not So Silent Night not much more than a month ago, at the Royal Albert Hall here in London. She was looking frail there, always sitting when performing, lovingly doted over not only by her children but by all else there. I think all in attendance, whether performing or watching, were aware of her understated power. Her anecdotes and jokes, while sometimes hard to hear, had all in rapture. It would appear that everyone had incredible respect for this woman who has seemingly muddled her way through over three decades of performance whilst raising very gifted children and, in the latter part, battling the cancer that eventually was her downfall.

Whether or not you know her music, she will be missed simply through association with Rufus and Martha. With their propensity and ability to wear their hearts on their sleeves in their music (not only Dinner At Eight, but Martha's Bloody Motherfucking Asshole is a powerful song about her relationship with her father, and there are so many songs about their emotions and opinions that do not even pretend to be veiled) you can expect many a heartbreaking tribute to Kate to appear and feature prominently in upcoming works. And if you are familiar with her beautiful songwriting and voice, may she forever live on in your record collection and iTunes. She's such a rare creature to emerge from the entertainment industry, respected popularly despite her relative obscurity, and the likes of her we may never really see again.

No comments:

Post a Comment