Going To A Town by Rufus Wainwright
This is my second song choice for the Soundtrack of my Life activity.
I’m skipping forward a few years today. This song was released in 2007, and it just happens to be my favourite song of all time. That said, I was a little unsure about including it because it’s very political and has some slightly unsavoury religious undertones. But, it is also incredibly relevant to the political climate of today. Seriously, it could have been written about the current administration in the US. But it wasn’t. Rufus Wainwright wrote it at the end of the last Bush government. When asked what it is about, he says he was sick of the current government administration, and he felt America had lost a huge part of its soul.
The “town that has already been burned down,” to which he refers throughout the song, is Berlin. He actually went to Berlin to stay some time while he wrote the album from which this song is taken (‘Release The Stars.’) His theory was that places that have already experienced great loss—such as Berlin—reach a point where a single spark of change kicks off the rebuilding of a greater future. Let’s hope he’s right about that.
But, enough of the politics. That’s not the reason I love this song. I love it because it takes me back to a precious moment between my Dad and me. From the first, lonesome piano note, I am in a car, driving Dad to the hospital. He has cancer, and we know it’s rapidly catching up with him. I took him to every appointment he had. I was there for the highs and lows, and although they break my heart constantly, they are also times I cherish because I was there to share everything with him. Mum is disabled and stayed at home for most of his appointments (it was pretty hard trying to push two people in wheelchairs at once!).
So, this song. One day, on our way to the hospital, this song came on the radio (I even remember the exact piece of road). First the piano sounded, then the bass drum kicked in as Rufus started to sing, and Dad and I both reached for the volume button at exactly the same time. We didn’t speak for the duration of the song. When it finished, I stole a quick glance at him, but we were both speechless. It touched us both.
The way this song makes me feel now is nostalgic, sad, hollow, but connected to Dad. It is my favourite song. I love how it builds and builds, and the final crescendo at the end is mind-blowing. Even without the emotional connection, I would still adore it. It’s cleverly arranged (by Rufus), and the string section is brilliant. I love every part of it.