Last Man On Earth

Since the holidays I’ve been been getting used to some major life changes…and, like it always has during important segments of my life, music is playing an important role…You might recall that I had been channeling my angst about living alone through Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky album back in October 2007.  Now I cast about my iPod for some music to capture my many, changing, contradictory emotions…To my surprise there is an album that nicely helps me vent many of my feelings….

The Last Man on Earth (2001) is the sixteenth studio album by singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III, released on September 24, 2001 on Red House Records. According to his own liner notes, Wainwright entered a period of deep depression following a romantic break up and the death of his mother in 1997 …he believed he could never write again. Retreating to his mother’s cabin in the woods, he underwent therapy and gradually recovered, eventually recording the soul-baring Last Man on Earth album.

What I like about Last Man on Earth is its complexity…it is not just an angry album…or a sad album…or a hopeful album…but Wainwright captures the crazy cocktail of thoughts, ideas and emotions that someone wrestles with during a grieving process…for me, it’s grieving about losing a relationship and a way of life…as one reviewer puts it:

Granted, most albums about loss tend towards being grave, dark, and solitary affairs. However, Wainwright surrounds his lyrics with music that is subtly buoyant and uplifting, not to mention that at his best, he has a unique way of making his songs simultaneously heartbreaking and amusing.–

The albums working title was “Missing you”…the name of the first track…I’m feeling its lyrics at the moment, so I’ll post some of them here:

He don’t stay out anymore
No more coming in past four
Most nights he turns in ’round ten
He’s way too tired to pretend

Sure, you might find him up at three
But if he is it’s just to pee
Sometimes he’s awake ’till two
But that’s just ’cause he’s missing you
He’s lying there and missing you

Guess he’s just set in his ways
He does the same damn thing most days
And there’s seven twenty-fours a week
With lots of down time so to speak
But he hardly glances at a clock
Since his routine is carved in rock
Man’s a machine, what can he do
Keep going on just missing you
Keep right on going missing you

And his teeth falls out, so does his hair
But in his dreams you’re always there
A jewel in his unconscious mind
A miracle, a precious find
But in the end he’s all alone
He wakes up and his jewel is gone
There’s a heaven and he knows it’s true
But he’s back on earth just missing you
And it’s hell on earth
Missing you
Back where he started
Missing you

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