Single Review: Rufus Wainwright – ‘Me & Liza’
Me & Liza is the token new track from Rufus Wainwright’s upcoming best of album, Vibrate. The title and subject matter of the song refers to Rufus’ relationship with legendary performer Liza Minnelli, particularly the breakdown of their association in 2006. At that time Liza did not take too kindly to Rufus’ shows at Carnegie Hall, New York in which he performed her mother Judy Garland’s concert album in its entirety, which was recorded there in 1961.
The song sees Rufus resume forces with prolific British songwriter and producer Guy Chambers (Robbie Williams, Kylie Minogue). The opening bars of the track are saturated in a sense of hesitance and tenseness, a parallel to how his relationship with Liza stood at the time. The introduction is limited to a simplistic bass drum and cymbal rhythm paired with a soft acoustic guitar line, allowing Rufus’ voice to be the focal presence. However, the tension soon falls away when the driving bass line kicks the song into gear; Rufus begins to speak of his Dad’s connection to Liza decades earlier, and the chorus outlines the perils that come with fame and from being borne of famous families.
The tone of the song continues to lighten as Rufus reveals that they are now good friends and that he is looking forward to reuniting with Liza, noting that like it or not they’ll be “famous til the day that we die”. An uplifting horn section invigorates the final chorus’ which carry Me & Liza home, leaving a sense of elation that the old pals have managed to patch things up. Rufus leaves it until the final lines of the song to correct the inherent syntax errors, singing “Liza and I” as his iconic vocals fade out.
This new track, set amongst the cream of his 16 year, 7 studio album career, is set to reaffirm him status as one of the great songwriters of his generation.