Terrell’s Tuneup: The Man Who Rode The Mule Around The World
A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
October 9, 2009
Loudon Wainwright III’s High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project is not your typical tribute album.
Poole, described by a bellowing drunk at his funeral in 1931 as a “banjo-playing son of a bitch,” was a traveling North Carolina songster who, despite his tragically short career (he died at the age of 39 after a 13-week drinking binge) helped build the foundation for what later became known as country music.
Wainwright sums up Poole’s life — and much more, I believe — in the title song, which opens and closes the project:
“High, wide and handsome, you can’t take it with you/High, wide and handsome, that’s one way to go/Let’s live it up, might as well, we’re all dying/High, wide and handsome, let’s put on a show.”