Loudon Wainwright III is an American singer, songwriter and sometime actor. His music has been variously described as folk, country and social commentary, and he is especially renowned as a disarmingly honest chronicler of relationships.

John Peel's Night Loudon Wainwright III

John Peel's Night Loudon Wainwright III

Short film introduced by Jo Whiley during John Peel Night about Loudon Wainwright III, who thanked Peel for helping his music career.

John Peel played the first Loundon Wainwright album in 1970 and his first Peel session was broadcast on Top Gear in 1971. He admired the singer enough to make a live gig by him the main subject of one of his columns in Disc & Music Echo, with the headline "Hunt down this man he's a rare breed!" and the comment "I have never seen a more powerful artist".[1]

This was the start of a lasting relationship, with Loudon's fifteenth session being broadcast in late 2003. He twice performed joint live sessions for Peel and Kershaw during the time when their programmes were adjacent on the Radio 1 schedule, and in one of these Peel paid tribute to him saying "Andy and I wanted to get you in because we both think the world of you". He played live at Peel Acres in 1999, and he and Peel discussed producing an album of "standards", with Peel suggesting Willie Nelson's "Touch me" and Don Gibson's "Legend in my time". The final Loudon track played by Peel was probably Work In Progress from the 2003 session.

Festive Fifty Entries

  • None


1971-05-22 RT Top Gear John Peel detail

Radio Times 'This Week's Sounds' feature for Wainwright's first session for Peel, 1971.

Sixteen sessions, including two live from Peel Acres. A selection of tracks was released on The BBC Sessions (CD, Strange Fruit, 1998). Unknown session tracks were also played on 22 September 1975, a special programme to mark the penultimate Top Gear show.

1. Recorded: 1971-05-18. First Broadcast: 22 May 1971. Repeat: 17 July 1971 (first broadcast of ‘Four Is A Magic Number’)

  • Sink The Bismark /School Days / Be Careful / There’s A Baby In The House / East Indian Princess / Medley: I Know I’m Unhappy/Suicide Song/Glenville Reel / Four Is A Magic Number

2. Recorded: 1971-10-11. First Broadcast: 13 October 1971. Repeat: 01 December 1971

  • Say That You Love Me / Samson And The Warden / Motel Blues / Trilogy (Circa 1967) / Plane Too

3. Recorded: 1973-06-11. First Broadcast: 12 June 1973. Repeat: 09 October 1973

  • Clockwork Chartreuse / A.M. World / Drinking At The Bar / Jerusalem Town / Lullabye

4. Recorded: 1975-05-06. First Broadcast: 12 May 1975. Repeat: 30 June 1975

  • Bi-Centennial Anniversary / Detroit's A Dying City / Unrequited To The Nth Degree / Hollywood Hopeful / Have You Ever Been To Pittsburgh / Five Gold Stars

5. Recorded: 1976-08-09. First Broadcast: 26 August 1976. Repeat: 22 August 1981 (Peel's Pleasures)

  • Ingenue / Golfing Blues / Swimming Song / Prince Hal's Dirge

6. Recorded: 1976-11-23. First Broadcast: 09 December 1976. Repeat: 31 January 1977

  • Natural Disaster / Air Travel / Monkey In My Closet / Dick And Jane / It's Over The Hill / My Girl

7. Recorded: 1979-08-01. First Broadcast: 13 August 1979. Repeat: 11 September 1979

  • Saturday Morning Fever / The Acid Song / Vampire Blues / April Fools' Day Morn / Dump The Dog And Feed The Garbage

8. Recorded: 1983-04-09. First Broadcast: 14 April 1983. Repeat: 03 May 1983, 13 July 1983

  • Outsidey / I'm All Right / Screaming Issue / Career Moves / Not John

9. Recorded: 1985-09-17. First Broadcast: 30 September 1985. Repeat: 16 October 1985

  • Expatriot / No / You Kids Today / I Wanna Be On MTV / Hard Day On The Planet / Little Did I Know / I Wish It Was Me

10. Recorded: 1989-10-08. First Broadcast: 19 October 1989. Repeat: 28 November 1989

  • They Spelled My Name Wrong Again / Jesse Don’t Like It / Sunday Times / Sometimes I Forget

11. Recorded: 1992-10-01. First Broadcast: 07 November 1992. Repeat: 19 December 1992

  • The Birthday Present / Happy Birthday Elvis / A Handful Of Dust / So Good So Far
Father & Son by Loudon Wainwright III (1998 BBC Session)

Father & Son by Loudon Wainwright III (1998 BBC Session)

A Father And A Son (1998 Kershaw session)

12. Recorded: 1993-08-14, live in the studio (jointly with Andy Kershaw). First Broadcast: 14 August 1993. This session is not listed in Ken Garner's The Peel Sessions, which is ironic since JP quotes from Garner's earlier In Session Tonight during the broadcast
  • A Father And A Son / Colors / Be Careful There's A Baby In The House / Just A John / Between

13. Recorded: 1999-07-29, live at Peel Acres. First Broadcast: 29 July 1999.

(Loudon Wainwright plays live on his first visit to the house, some 26 or 27 years after Peel first invited him. As he is preparing to sing a track requested by listeners, John forgets to open his fader and the ensuing silence causes the emergency tape to kick in, over which Loudon can be heard saying, "We're gonna have to do it again, I guess.")
  • When I'm At Your House / Be Careful There's A Baby In The House / The Doctor / One Time At A Time / Pretty Good Day / At The End Of A Long Lonely Day

14. Recorded: 2001-09-27, live at Peel Acres. First Broadcast: 27 September 2001

(02 October 2001: Peel describes previous Thursday's show with Loudon Wainwright III as "one of the best programmes I've ever been involved with, I felt. I enjoyed myself so much and I thought Loudon was just magical.")
  • I'm Not Gonna Cry / One Man Guy / Donations / Cardboard Boxes / Colours / I'd Rather Be Lonely / Surviving Twin / No Sure Way

15. Recorded: 2002-04-21. First Broadcast: 16 July 2002. Repeat: 21 November 2002:

  • Half Fist / Heaven / No Sure Way / Something For Nothing / The Final Frontier

16. Recorded: 2003-07-16. First Broadcast: 27 August 2003. Repeat: ?

  • Here Comes The Choppers / To Be On TV / Nanny / When You Leave / Work In Progress


  • Recorded live on 1971-10-14 at the BBC Paris Theatre. Broadcast: 26 October 1971
  1. Me And My Friend The Cat
  2. I Don't Care
  3. Say That You Love Me
  4. School Days
  5. Nice Jewish Girls
  6. New Paint
  7. East Indian Princess
  8. I Know I'm Unhappy
  9. Motel Blues
  10. Be Careful There's A Baby In The House
  11. Old Friend
  12. Surfing Queen
  13. Drinking Song
  14. Bruno's Place
  15. Intellectual Baby (George Gerdes)
  16. Backyard Of Your Heart (George Gerdes)
  17. You Ain't Goin' Nowhere (George Gerdes and Loudon Wainwright III sing together this Bob Dylan song)
  18. Dead Skunk (In The Middle Of The Road) (George Gerdes and Loudon Wainwright III sing together)

Other Shows Played

(The following list was compiled only from the database of this site and Lorcan's Tracklistings Archive and is certainly incomplete, due to the lack of available data particularly from the 1970s. Please add more information if known.)

  • 08 May 1975: Kings And Queens (LP - Unrequited) Columbia
  • 03 April 1993: Bill Of Goods (v/a album - The Best Of Mountain Stage Volume One) This Way Up 514 494-2
  • 10 July 1993: Five Years Old (CD – Career Moves) Virgin
  • Peel Summer 1993: Just A John 14 August 1993 (weatherman22: I recall LW being a studio guest and though Ken's book lists a session repeat on this date, it is 9 months since his last session, and this track was not on it. This is a beautiful, passionate and powerful rendition.)
  • 26 November 1993: Suddenly It's Christmas
  • 03 December 1993 (BFBS): Suddenly It's Christmas (7" Single) Virgin
  • 10 December 1993: A Father & A Son (LP-History) Virgin (JP: "A track that's upset me as much as any track ever has in the whole of my life, I think. Every time I hear it, I get upset.")
  • 11 November 1998: School Days (LP: The BBC Sessions) BBC Music / Strange Fruit
  • 16 November 1998 (BFBS): School Days (CD-BBC Sessions) BBC Music / Strange Fruit
  • 19 November 1998: Carmine Street (LP: The BBC Sessions) BBC Music / Strange Fruit
  • 29 November 1998 (BFBS): AM World (CD-The BBC Sessions) BBC Music / Strange Fruit
  • 01 December 1998: A Father And A Son (LP: The BBC Sessions) BBC Music / Strange Fruit
  • 09 December 1998: The Swimming Song (LP - The BBC Sessions) Strange Fruit (Peel relates how he got up on stage halfway through the debut UK gig of Loudon Wainwright III to tell people to stop talking)

See Also

External Links

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