EXCLUSIVE: Get To Know Martha Wainwright's 'Goodnight City' In Track-By-Track

15 November 2016 | 11:59 am | Staff Writer

"Window is about my eldest son Arcangelo. He was jealous when he heard Francis so I wanted to write a song for him."

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Having released her seventh studio record, Goodnight City, last Friday — which we described as something "almost impossible not to go back and hit 'repeat'" on — we asked Martha Wainwright to sit down and describe each song on the album in all its "melodramatic", "cinematic" glory.

Around The Bend

This song was an attempt to not be overly autobiographical and a little theatrical. it's upbeat but a little morbid which reminds me of myself.

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This is a love song to my son. At first it sounds like a teenage love song to a girl, but then the lyrics reveal who Franci is. It's intense and demonstrates the strong feelings I have towards him.


Traveller is about a friend who died of cancer a couple years ago. He was actually Thomas Bartlett’s brother and as the song suggests, he always will be - it's about how people don't really go away when they die. He was 40 years old.

Look Into My Eyes

Look Into My Eyes is a song that my aunt Anna McGarrigle, my cousin Lily and I wrote together. It's a family collaboration and Rufus is lending his amazing voice on it as well. Living in Quebec and speaking French, I wanted to have a song on the record that's in French.

Before The Children Came Along

This is a love song about my husband Brad and I, and the ups and downs of a relationship. It's also an attempt to write in a slightly different style.


Window is about my eldest son Arcangelo. He was jealous when he heard Francis so I wanted to write a song for him. It's about keeping his spirit alive. He's the most remarkable person I know.

Piano Music

Piano Music was penned by the great Michael Ondaatje and it's an honour to have this poem. He wrote for me because he is a fan and has always loved my music. Thomas Bartlett put music to it and wrote the beautiful and haunting melody.


This is song written by Beth Orton. She sent over a rough recording of her playing it on guitar in her kitchen, and her melancholic lyrics and pained sensibility inspired the recording. I love her poetry and felt it was something that I could have a written so it made sense for me to sing it. I’ve always loved the word Alexandria, and it was a big part of my upbringing because it's the name of the town where my aunt has a farm and where my cousins grew up.

So Down

So Down is a song I wrote on the electric guitar. It's really fun to play and speaks to my more aggressive way of songwriting. On this record I’ve allowed myself to show more sides of my musical taste and sensibility.

One Of Us

Half written by Glen Hansard and half by me. It's very fun to song to sing because it's a bit melodramatic - which I've been known to be sometimes.

Take The Reins

This is a great contribution by Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs. She sent the tracks and lyrics and I added my vocal and we put some real drums and keyboards. It feels like she and I were fused together which is great. I love her work.


Francis is a wonderful and moving ballad written by my brother about my son. He really did a great job of encapsulating a feeling and on this track, he also lends his definitive piano playing. Thanks Rufie.


Somehow is a beautiful and very cinematic song about a broken down relationship. I was able to sing and feel what Julia Stone was trying to convey. She took all the work out of writing a song and let me have the joy of simply singing it.