|Loudon Wainwright III (top)|
and David Bromberg
It’s well understood that Wainwright (by and large) is singing his own songs; Bromberg never calls attention to the songs her performs that are his own compositions, which means that they nestle amidst classics by others with similar craftsmanship and timelessness. What links the two most thoroughly is irony. Classic blues songs have that built in, and the best work of both performers tell stories of love pushed awry.
Take Wainwright’s “Donations.” It presents an “in case of accident” scenario: “I’'m an unmarried orphan whose children have scattered, / Estranged from my siblings, / close friends just a few. / And of those few friends I consider you closest. / They must contact someone. / Could they contact you?” Delivered, characteristically, with smirking awareness of the question’s craziness. The classic blues plaint casts the singer as the not-too-innocent victim, and Bromberg deftly mines that genre with lyrics like, “The first time the girl quit me – this month / She wouldn’t even tell me why. / I couldn’t eat, sleep, drink, or work; / It was all I could do to just lie across the bed and cry.”