Liner Notes: Discussions on Bob Dylan, LSD, and Life Magazine

By Alesha Bradford, Contributing Writer

This is perhaps the first book interview to start with a live guitar performance.

Loudon Wainwright III is better known as an actor, prolific songwriter and folksinger. On Thursday, September 7th at The Strand, he treated his audience to one of his more famous songs, “Surviving Twin”. Across from Wainwright sat journalist and political commentator Hendrick Hertzberg. “That’s the first time I heard that song without crying. Seriously,” Hertzberg said.  

Once settled in, Herzberg got into the main topic of how Wainwright’s new memoir “Liner Notes, On Parents & Children, Exes & Excess, Death & Decay, & a Few of My Other Favorite Things” came to be. “Songs are short and books are long, so how did you come to write a book?”

As a memoir, the discussion focused mainly around Wainwrights personal life, with topics ranging from his humble beginnings at a boarding school in Maryland to his musical influences such as Bob Dylan, to his one-and-a-half year hippie phase, and to his rocky relationships with his three children and now-deceased father.

Wainwright’s father, Loudon Wainwright II, was a famous columnist for Life magazine, which Wainwright admits to never fully appreciating until his later years.

”My father and I, and my son and I, to cut to the chase, have a competitive thing. Had a competitive thing…I think It  spurs us on to work a little harder, but it’s unfortunate because it can also create tensions and conflicts in our lives, [and] in our ability to love each other.”  His father’s various articles are now peppered throughout “Liner Notes,” the pages colored gray and “Very easy to find,” Hertzberg remarks.

Wainwright kept the discussion light and casual, and even talked about his past use of LSD during his touring days when Hertzberg asks about his acid trips mentioned in “Liner Notes.”

“Fortunately I was not drawn to the serious, scary drugs, I mean, I’d do a line of cocaine if it was around” Wainwright confessed. “This is really a tell-all thing! I didn’t know we were gonna get down like this,” he said.

Wainwright also admits to being a die-hard liberal. His performance of his Donald Trump song “I Had A Dream” was deemed the climax of the interview.

“His face was bright orange, his hair was just…weird, we were made great again-embarrassed in fear!” 

“Do we have time for one more song?” Hertzberg asks before wrapping up the interview. “We sure do! What do you wanna hear?” The audience gave song suggestions before agreeing on his very first song “School Days,” which served as a fitting end to a discussion chronicling a man’s whole life

“In Delaware when I…was… younger…”


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