Even though he claimed to know little about ranching and cowboy ways, Loudon Wainwright handled the vocabulary with ease as he rambled through “Old Paint.” What are the fiery and the snuffy? we wanted to know. Branding equipment, we learned. He told us an old paint is a speckled pony, and, of course, dogies are cattle. But some of the song’s other words, so familiar to the cowhand are mysteries to us, and Loudon wouldn’t dare to speculate.
“Old Paint” was a song taught to Loudon by someone very dear, a song that has taken on a new life in the different ways he has played it and recorded it. This time when he played it, we heard a song about the beauty in each day of work and having lived a life devoted to your chosen trade. We placed the player on the long wooden table, and set the needle in the groove, and the acetate’s crackle was a campfire suddenly warming the chilly room, and it was the voice of a lone cowboy we heard.
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For his flipside, Loudon chose a song with a very different story of westward migration. “I Don’t Care” is a signature Loudon Wainwright song, a jauntily irreverent goodbye to a former love headed across the country made compelling by the masterful dance between words and guitar.