Wainwright to Channel Judy Garland, Live (National Public Radio)

Weekend Edition – Saturday, June 10, 2006 · The concert poster for Judy Garland’s 1961 performance at Carnegie Hall proclaimed her the “world’s greatest entertainer.” Rufus Wainwright is certainly less well-known than Garland, but he’s retaining the set list and the superlative billing for his recreation of that legendary show.

At the time of the original Carnegie Hall concert, Garland was long past her days of superstardom, which began with 1939’s The Wizard of Oz and waned in the ’50s. Garland, who had not appeared in any films for over six years, had also battled substance abuse and hepatitis.

The concert, however, was a major success: Garland packed the hall. The show recording spent 13 weeks at No. 1 and won five Grammys. The album has never been out of print.



2 thoughts on “Wainwright to Channel Judy Garland, Live (National Public Radio)

  1. Went to the concert on Wednesday, June 14 without having ever heard Rufus before because a friend had recommended him. The most moving thing about it for me as a gay man was seeing another gay man be completely himself and expressing his adoration and homage for and to this fabulous music (which though meant to be sung by a woman, expresses the deepest longings of many gay men). It is thrilling to see a man acknowledge and express these longings and feelings publicly. Mr. Wainwright has a lovely voice with lots of range. He is mainly a lyrical singer and did not fare particularly well in the numbers which were uptempo and called for a sense of “swing” and jazz timing. So what you got was these songs sung beautifully without much pathos such as Garland brought to them. But he did it on his own terms as an acolyte and it worked on that level. Rufus has a lot of living to do to bring an additional level of depth and emotional nuance to this great reportoire. It would be nice to see what he could bring to it in 20 years.

  2. I was at the Wednesday concert. I’ve never experienced that kind of energy and community at a musical event. It was amazing.

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