40 Odd Years into an exceptionally prolific and storied career, Loudon Wainwright III is being celebrated with an aptly named career-spanning 4-CD/1-DVD box set, including a 40-page book, with an essay by renowned journalist/author David Wild and an introduction by filmmaker and box set co-producer Judd Apatow.
40 Odd Years features songs from throughout Wainwright's career, including works of brilliance such as "The Man Who Couldn't Cry" from 1973's Attempted Mustache, which Johnny Cash would record with producer Rick Rubin decades later, to the genuinely odd "Dead Skunk," which became a #16 pop hit and thus a true novelty in the Wainwright canon, to highlights from his most recent projects, including cuts from the Grammy-winning album High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project. The 3+ hour DVD includes an extremely rare documentary made for Dutch television entitled One Man Guy, TV appearances on the BBC, Saturday Night Live, and Austin City Limits, as well as several unreleased concert performances.
Famed comedy powerhouse Judd Apatow, who co-produced the set with Wainwright, and who credits the artist as a great influence on his own career, writes in his introduction "I wanted to do what he has always done: to be brutally honest, emotional, hilarious and sweet all at the same time. Whenever I wonder what my tone might be, if I am confused, I just listen to a Loudon Wainwright song."
Regardless of prevailing trends or commercial pressures, Wainwright has always continued to follow his beautiful, often heartbreaking muse, no matter what the consequences. This is why his music endures, 23 albums and 40 odd years later, and why Loudon remains a true American treasure to this day.
It's all enough to make you hope for another 40 Odd Years.