Halleluiah! (Live at Fillmore) –

July 8, 2020 – Wainwright’s Irish nanny wasn’t paying attention when he suddenly went underwater — “and was presumably saved by Betty Buckley,” he said, laughing.

“Which is the story I stick by. It’s amazing how certain childhood traumas really inflict themselves indelibly on your memory.”

He told that story over lunch, pre-pandemic, in the same courtyard of the same hotel. A few days later, I got an email back from Buckley. “Yes, I saved Rufus from drowning when he was a little kid,” the Tony-winning “Cats” singer wrote. She didn’t know who he or his parents were at the time, and only recently heard about him telling this story onstage. “I was beyond thrilled to learn that I had actually saved Rufus Wainwright!” she wrote. “I’m a huge fan.” This is Wainwright in a bottle: dramatic, humorous and in proximity to musical legends. The singer-songwriter, who is just about to turn 47, is using his creeping middle age to reckon with his past and future on a new album, “Unfollow the Rules.”

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