Track of the Day: ‘Go Leave’ by Antony

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Yesterday, we noted Barbara’s recommendation of “Proserpina,” sung by Kate McGarrigle’s daughter, Martha Wainwright. The second half of Barbara’s email highlighted many cover songs based on McGarrigle’s work:

Sing Me the Songs: Celebrating the Work of Kate McGarrigle has some great songs by Kate and a few by other family members. Rufus Wainwright sings “Southern Boys,” and he and his sister Martha team up for “First Born” (“Yes, he’s that first-born son, he’s that special one...”). I like the oh-I-know-that-kid serendipity of “First Born,” as well as the porch-rocker feel of Rufus’s “Southern Boys.” He also joins Emmylou Harris on “I Eat Dinner (When the Hunger’s Gone),” which is about divorce, but it could just as easily be speaking of my experience of widowhood.

There’s also Jimmy Fallon performing the fun-in-the-sun “Swimming Song.” I wallow in the melancholy of Antony singing “Go Leave” [embedded above] and Krystle Warren’s rendition of “I Don’t Know” (“You ask me what it’s all about/ I say I don’t know/ Should you stay and work it out/ I say I don’t think so”)—either of these versions could be good additions to your cover-song series. “Jacques et Gilles” is a story and a history lesson combined. And there are plenty of other songs in addition to the ones I’ve listed.

I have always liked folk music, so McGarrigle fits right into my preferences. But there’s also a little extra memory fillip regarding the Wainwrights that shows my age: Rufus and Martha are the children of Loudon S. Wainwright III (of “Dead Skunk” notoriety and the creator of “Swimming Song”), who is the son of Loudon Wainwright, Jr., whose work I grew up reading regularly in Life magazine. I absorbed certain lessons about writing from Time, Sports Illustrated, and Life without realizing it, and the writing of Loudon Wainwright, Jr., was work I particularly looked for and enjoyed.

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