Wainwright stands, staring straight ahead. His thoughts turn round and round: from music to mother, from lover to daughter. And ultimately, to the evanescent nature of life. He wraps a multicolored, maestro-like scarf around his neck, zips his leather jacket, readies to ride the elevator down to the chi-chi hotel lobby.

"One of my favorite tracks on the record is 'Barbara,'" he says. "Though it's got an upbeat groove, it was inspired, partly, by the folk song 'Barbara Allen.'" I nod, knowing the sad tale of a dying young man who summons his love to his side. She is so callous when she's with him that a few months later, out of grief, she dies, too. A briar grows from her grave, a rosebush from his. The two ultimately grow together.

Rufus Wainwright: Getting funky at last
Tina Tyrell
Rufus Wainwright: Getting funky at last

"Yes, my song is about how everything passes, love fades, we ruin love, and we turn into ghosts, you know? In the song, I mention the trees. The trees bear silent witness to it all. They see everything we do. They survive us. I love that idea—that, you know, no matter what happens in our crazy little lives? The trees will remember."

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