Rufus Wainwright

American-Canadian singer-songwriter and composer

Rufus McGarrigle Wainwright (born July 22, 1973) is a Canadian-American singer-songwriter and composer.

Rufus Wainwright


  • Mowing your lawn is against nature.
    • Responding to Reverend Lou Sheldon insisting on homosexuality being against the very force of nature, Bill Maher's talk show Politically Incorrect, August 2001
  • When I was very young I was Judy. On good days I was Dorothy, on bad days I was the Wicked Witch. The interesting thing about it, too, is that I’ve always related to it mainly because I don’t relate much to Frank Sinatra. I appreciate Frank, but there are so many Frank Sinatra imitators, whether it’s Harry Connick Jr. or Michael Bublé—the kind of guys who [Snaps his fingers in quick succession] basically want to get laid. And there’s nobody being the flip side of that, which is the hungry, lonely, desperate, crazy-person singer [Laughs]. So I wanted to pick up that mantle and try to be a little less cool.
    • About Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall concert, Time Out New York Issue 551, April 20–26, 2006
  • Yes, I'm a homosexual and I like to shock people with glamour.
    • Rufus! Rufus! Rufus! Does Judy! Judy! Judy!: Live from the London Palladium DVD, filmed February 25, 2007
  • When I first came up with the lines, I don't know what it is, but you got to do it/ I don't know where to go but you got to be there, I was at this party for The Strokes in New York. There was this prevailing sense of, 'We're not quite sure what's happening or what is cool, but we know that it's somewhere around here, in this room.' It was this vague confusion, with everybody kind of sniffing for blood. It wasn't that it was a bad party, or that I don't like The Strokes; I just think there's a lot of confusion right now in the music business. Then, later on, I realized the song was really personal. I didn't know where I was, and I didn't know I was actually lost. It wasn't about the party at all; it's about searching but not knowing what you're searching for. There's the train motif, being on this train heading for either oblivion or salvation – and just holding on for dear life. That song came down from some mountain somewhere, because it was right after I wrote it that I sort of packed it in.
  • The song is about knowing the end result of every situation you're in, and being able to play it out in your mind and see it before it happens. It's about addiction, really, about knowing how it's all going to end up. In that sense, you're watching a movie of yourself all the time – and then you want out of that movie.
  • 'Evil Angel' is an interesting song. It's actually to do with a journalist who, uh... I was in France at the time and quite delicate... and this guy basically seduced me in Strasbourg... he gave me a tour of the town and it was very romantic, and we did actually make out in the middle of this town square... and then I went and did the show and I never heard from him again. And I just felt incredibly used. I think a lot of it has to do with, once you get into this business, you do have to become some kind of a machine. You do have to be heartless at times and be able to plough through certain situations. I don't want to totally become that person, but it's good that I'm thinking about it.
  • Nothing eviscerates the ego like becoming a parent. For a pop star, that’s not the easiest thing. But it’s led to a complete realignment of priorities for me. Now what happens to my daughter is far more important than what happens to me. And these days it’s not even just my child who is more important than me – it’s all children.
  • I’ve always been an old soul. I started drinking when I was very young. I got into opera when I was 13. I sought out older musicians. It’s as if I have always been trying to accelerate my life. It’s not that I found people my own age unstimulating. There was just something about always being the youngest kid in the room when I was growing up.
  • Grief is unexplainable. My mother has now been dead for 10 years. I only put my grief for her on the shelf when about five years had gone by. I felt as if I’d passed my exams. I had grieved enough, it was time to live again. And it felt like that for the next five years. But this Christmas I got the worst whiplash. It all came back out. I’m doing better now, but it was horrific. Leonard Cohen warned me it would be hard. He told me that, despite his mother having passed away many years previously, in his late 70s she was almost more present than ever.

Song lyrics

  • I don't want to hold you and feel so helpless
    I don't want to smell you and lose my senses
    And smile in slow motion
    With eyes in love.
    • Foolish Love
  • You broke my heart, Danny boy
    Not your fault, Danny boy
    I was had at the doorstep
    Played, like a two to a four-set
    Had, like poor Job in the bible by God.
    • Danny Boy
  • And you will believe in love
    And all that it's supposed to be
    But just until the fish start to smell
    And you're struck down by a hammer.
    • April Fool's
  • Cigarettes and chocolate milk
    These are just a couple of my cravings
    Everything it seems I like's a little bit stronger
    A little bit thicker
    A little bit harmful for me.
  • I really do fear that I'm dying
    I really do fear that I'm dead
    I saw it in your eyes what I'm looking for
    I saw it in your eyes what will make me live.
    • The Tower of Learning
  • I did go from wanting to be someone now
    I'm drunk and wearing flip-flops on Fifth Avenue.
    • Poses
  • Why am I always on a plane or a fast train?
    Oh what a world my parents gave me
    Travelin' but not in love.

    Still I think I'm doin' fine
    Wouldn't it be a lovely headline?
    Life is
    Beautiful on a New York Times.

  • Putting all of my time
    In learning to care
    And a bucket of rhymes
    I threw up somewhere
    Want a locket of who
    Made me lose my perfunctory view
    Of all that is around
    And of all that I do.
  • The mind has so many pictures
    Why can't I sleep with my eyes open?
    The mind has so many memories
    Can you remember what it looks like when I cry?

    I'm trying, trying to tell you
    All that I can in a sweet and velvet tongue
    But no words ever could sell you
    Sell you on me after all that I have done.

  • I really need to know
    I may just never see you again, or might as well
    You took advantage of a world that loved you well
    I'm going to a town that has already been burnt down
    I'm so tired of you, America.
  • Even if the sun, it is blazing
    Even if the snow, it is raging
    All the elements, we must conquer
    To get to the other side of town.
  • These are just the rules and regulations
    Of the birds, and the bees
    The earth, and the trees,
    Not to mention the gods, not to mention the gods.
  • Who will be at Sanssouci tonight?
    It's only when you're outside that you notice
    Only through the window you can see them
    Once the door is open, all will vanish.
  • Guess the world needs both sun
    And the moon too
    Sad with what I have except for you.
    • Sad With What I Have
  • And I am left behind
    Corrupted crushed and blind
    All for a dream
    That in truth was never really mine.
    • The Dream
  • I believe in freedom
    Freedom's apparently all I need
    But who's ever been free in this world?
    Who has never had to bleed in this world?
    • Zebulon
  • But I don’t even think you hear me at all
    Under your medieval ceiling behind your biblical wall
    • Jericho
  • One day you will come to Montauk and see your dad playing the piano
    And see your other dad wearing glasses
    Hope that you will want to stay for a while
    Don’t worry I know you’ll have to go
    • Montauk
  • Somebody curse the light
    And take me far away from myself
    • Bitter Tears

About Rufus Wainwright

  • Rufus seemed to come out of the womb completely musical. I'm convinced that when the doctor bashed him on the bum he sang a few bars of Nessun Dorma.
  • Rufus might sing with that beautiful voice, and the entire world seems to melt and stop; but it's his hair, after all, that I'm jealous of.
  • Rufus is one of those singular musical talents who both transcends and makes a mockery of fashion. It would not matter in which musical era he chose to materialise, but that his voice and his sensibility would be recognised as unique, timeless and without peer.
    • Sting, House of Rufus box set
  • His songs are obviously drawn from his own experience, but he's mastered the art of making them emotionally universal.
  • The Greatest songwriter on the planet.
  • Rufus Wainwright has as true a voice as you can hear and as sweet and acute a sensibility as you can imagine. His musicianship combined with his poetic, intelligent and humane outlook on life make for one of the great performers of our day. I adore his singing, his song-writing, everything about him…
  • He's got a phenomenal voice.
    • Guy Chambers, Secret of the Pop Song, BBC 2, broadcast Sat 2 Juli 2011
  • Rufus is extraordinary, so musically gifted in many diverse fields. He is a prince in shining armour, a true star in these days of dull and boring, pissy little pop stars.
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