Rufus Wainwright released the video for the charming, folksy “You Ain’t Big,” the latest single off his upcoming album Unfollow the Rules, slated for July 10th.
The clip opens in the style of an old film, complete with a scene in an editorial office as a man discusses how he overcame his anger: “How would you feel if you were me?” he says. “You needed to get back to the grassroots, get a little closer to people.”
The video features vintage postcards of heartland cities in the United States. Shots of white Americans contrast against clips of black protesters, as Wainwright sings, “You ain’t big if you’re little in Texas/Don’t know who you are unless you’re made it in Lawrence, Kansas/Wait a minute Lawrence, Kansas/Doesn’t really matter at all.”
In a statement, Wainwright commented on the initial meaning of the track and how it’s transformed in the wake of recent worldwide protests over the death of George Floyd. “I originally wrote the song ‘You Ain’t Big’ about the strange fact that in the music business worldwide until recently (our estimation has fallen considerably), no matter how well you’ve done anywhere else, if you couldn’t make it in the heartland of the U.S., you weren’t really considered a true star,” he said. “Think Little Richard, Elvis, the Beatles and Julio Iglesias.”
“However, in releasing this song now which references states such as Alabama, North Carolina, Kansas (where I have had the pleasure of playing shows) and even New York and California, all troubled places during this tremendously turbulent time nationwide, the term ‘You Ain’t Big’ has taken on additional meanings,” he continued. “The song at heart is apolitical. Its vintage sound harkens back to the classical American country music sound of the Forties and Fifties and with the help of opposing images in the video of how different life was for white people compared to black people in the Fifties, as it has sadly remained, I think it rings appropriate for this time and professes a certain truth.”
“You Ain’t Big” follows the singles “Alone Time,” Trouble in Paradise,” and “Damsel in Distress.” In addition to “You Ain’t Big,” Wainwright also released Rufus Wainwright: Unmaking Unfollow the Rules on his YouTube channel. Directed by Jeff Richter, the film chronicles the making of the record and features Jim Keltner, Mitchell Froom, David Boucher, Petra Haden, Blake Mills and more.