On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post every day (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be… legendary!
Rufus Wainwright – The Art Teacher (2004)
” The Art Teacher” is a song written and performed by American-Canadian singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright. It originally appeared on his extended play (EP), Waiting for a Want , released by DreamWorks Records in June 2004 as a preview of his fourth studio album, , which was released by Geffen Records in November 2004.
We’re leaving Germany and Europe today, dear reader, and taking a long flight to the US and to New York. Rufus Wainwright began his career in the late 1980s and focused on a multitude of genres with the likes of pop, classical and opera all thrown into the mix. When we join him in 2004 it is with the release of his fourth album, Want Two, and from there 1001 Songs have gone with the track, The Art Teacher.
The Art Teacher was inspired by a conversation Wainwright had with a teacher at a gym. The teacher spoke of his female students and how many fancied him. Wainwright took this premise and explored it from the perspective of one of the students. In the song, an unnamed woman looks back to her school days and remembers the art teacher that she fell in love with. This is not the teenage crush or lust of sexual awakening in The Police’s Don’t Stand So Close To Me. Instead, this woman is haunted by this teacher for he remains the only man she has ever loved, even though she has since married and tried to move on. The reality is that a man she watched from afar remains the love of her life. No one else has come close.
The Art Teacher is heavily driven by the piano and coupled with Wainwright’s well-judged vocals, it is a beautiful song. The background to its composition was certainly interesting and I understand from my research that the teacher that inspired the track was left befuddled by the finished product and did not really get it. Wainwright continues to perform and has now amassed ten albums to his name. Impressive indeed.
Favourite songs so far: