Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder


The cover of Kate & Anna McGarrigle's first LP

Kate McGarrigle, the Canadian folk singer, songwriter and musician, passed away last week. She formed a successful musical partnership with her sister Anna and a less successful one with American singer-songwriter, Loudon Wainwright III. Kate and Loudon were married to each other for a few years in the early seventies, although this union managed to produce two more talented singer-songwriters, Rufus and Martha Wainwright. The two kids have become quite successful in their own right, but I first encountered Rufus and Martha in their father’s songs, stuff like Rufus is a Tit Man and Five Years Old. Around the time I was getting into Loudon, I also came across the debut album from Kate and Anna McGarrigle (pictured above) and learned more of Loudon’s relationship with Kate through Loudon’s sometimes funny, sometimes sad songs about their last years together and its aftermath. This was one hell of a musical family and each member used the lyrics of their songs as a cathartic device to express their feelings in song. Previously, I’ve posted Rufus’ interpretation of his father’s One Man Guy here, and both Loudon’s song about Rufus and Martha’s song about Loudon here. Here are a few more songs that chronicle this family dialogue beginning with a song that Kate wrote about Loudon that appears on the sisters’ debut and concludes with (if my French is correct) an ode to drink that, I guess, acknowledges Kate’s French and Irish heritage. In between, I’ve included more of Loudon’s songs about Kate, Martha and Rufus along with some responses from the kids. You’ll also find a song that Rufus wrote about his mother’s facial mark and Martha’s In the Middle of the Night, which concerns her mother’s illness


Go Leave – Kate & Anna McGarrigle

Your Mother and I – Loudon Wainwright III

Unhappy Anniversary – Loudon Wainwright III

5 Years Old – Loudon Wainwright III

Hitting You – Loudon Wainwright III

One Man Guy – Loudon & Martha Wainwright

You Never Phone, You Never Write – Loudon & Martha Wainwright

Father/Daughter-Dialogue – Loudon & Martha Wainwright

What Are Families For? – Loudon Wainwright III

Dinner at Eight – Rufus Wainwright

A Father And A Son – Loudon Wainwright III

Beauty Mark – Rufus Wainwright

In The Middle Of The Night – Martha Wainwright

Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder – Loudon Wainwright III

Á Boire – Kate & Anna McGarrigle

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One thought on “Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

  1. Definitely an offbeat topic. Not a lot of talk about the McGarrigles or Wainwrights anymore. I am enjoying the music.
    Thanks.

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