Sunday, March 13, 2011

Words & Music: Rufus Wainwright & William Shakespeare

Here's a streamlined Sunday offering for you:

What do you get when you take the most famous sonnet from a 16th-17th century English poetic genius and put them in the hands of a 20th-21st century American song-morphing phenom?

Mo' genius, mo' genius, mo' genius, of course.

Take a listen...
Rufus Wainwright sings Sonnet 29.

Sonnet 29 by William Shakespeare:

When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
Rufus Wainwright grew up in a musical family: He's the son of the late great Kate McGarrigle & Loudon Wainwright III - and has more than carried the torch.  Composed an opera? Check.  Scored a ballet? Check.  Sung film soundtracks?  Check.  Acted in major motion pictues? Check.  Environmental and political activism?  Check.  Serious solo career?  Check.  Mesmerizing in concert, brilliant at the composer's bench, and still at the start of what promises to be a long and distinguished career.  Give him a listen, starting at his site linked above.

William Shakespeare grew up in England and wrote some of the most brilliant works in history.  You know who he is! 

And finally, step into the WayBack Machine for a trip to 1987 in this BONUS track: 
For a hard-to-forget and somewhat grin-inspiring two minutes, go ahead and check out an utterly fab performance of Sonnet 20 by Ian McKellen (way, way before he was a "Sir") accompanied incongruously by The Fleshtones... Mint.

Please support the poets and musicians who - like Rufus Wainwright & William Shakespeare & Sir Ian McKellen - change us with their art.


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