Brent Johnson’s Lost Songs: ‘The One You Love’ by Rufus Wainwright

brent johnson digs up another lost treasure, this week from Rufus Wainwright …


It was November 2004. My brother and I had just popped Rufus Wainwright’s Want Two into the car CD player for the first time. And we both had the same reaction to the album’s second track:

This is the song that will finally put Rufus on the radio.

At the time, Wainwright was a critics darling who found only fringe commercial success with his nasal-yet-belting voice, ornate songs and wry humor. But ‘The One You Love’ was immediately infectious. It had a sly, slightly menacing bounce. A killer chorus. Lovely backing vocals from his sister Martha. And a drum part by Levon Helm of The Band, one of the most understatedly cool musicians on the planet.

It wasn’t too indie. It didn’t try to hard to be pop. It also had something that often goes unnoticed in modern music: a soaring, striking middle eight. (In other words, the part of a song that’s also called a bridge — where the melody briefly diverges from the verse and chorus.)

But alas …

“The song failed to chart in any country,” reads the track’s Wikipedia page.

Oh well.