Dead Skunk – Loudon Wainwright III | Top 40 Chart Performance, Story and Song Meaning

Chart Performance: Pop (#16); 1973

Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne

Imagine an ancestry that includes the first governor of New York and a longtime editor of Life magazine. Now pretend that you attended the prestigious Carnegie Mellon Institute for acting, then released two critically acclaimed, if commercially ignored, albums. Now you’re being hailed as the “new Dylan” – as in Bob – while being taken to task for being too intellectual. So you bang out a sarcastic little song in rebuttal and that becomes your only hit record! Well, that’s how things went for Loudon Wainwright III. Dead Skunk, from Album III, remains Loudon’s lasting Top 40 legacy. It’s also his only hit legacy, unless you count son, Rufus, who so far has dodged his Dad’s fate as a novelty song “one hit wonder.” As for Loudon, Dead Skunk was mere road kill on the highway of life. He continued to record, and acted on TV (M*A*S*H as Capt. Calvin Spaulding), in film (The Slugger’s Wife), and on stage (Pump Boys And Dinettes).

This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2024 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.

Produced by:

  • Thomas Jefferson Kaye

Lyrics Written by:

  • Loudon Wainwright III