As we learned last weekend at the Grammys, mainstream radio appeal doesn’t always equate to quality music with the Album of the Year going to Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs. Actually, I truly hope people didn’t just learn that last weekend although I fear that may be the case.

Loudon Wainwright III knows a thing or two about that. His Grammy award-winning, 23-album career has spanned over four decades although you’ll be hard-pressed to find many of his tunes on the FM dial. And now Shout! Factory is commemorating his contribution to the music and film industries with 40 Odd Years, a 4-CD, 1-DVD box set that includes a 40-page book with contributions by journalist David Wild and filmmaker Judd Apatow.

40 Odd Years — which gathers together all of Loudon Wainwright III’s best work — displays his unique approach to music making. Rather than write about global politics or simply sing shallow love songs, Wainwright has focused on writing about life’s more domestic, and ultimately universal, aspects. He has written extensively about family and his children, three of whom – Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright, and Lucy Wainwright Roche – are songwriters. Other themes include love, lust and the horrible and unkind things we do to one another in our personal lives.

Roughly 70 tracks span the 4-disc set, while the lone DVD offers these clips:

One Man Guy – 1993 Dutch television documentary

BBC4 Sessions: Loudon Wainwright: One Man Guy – Filmed at Bush Hall, London, on May 2, 2005

“One Man Guy”
“When You Leave”
“Half Fist”

Loudon Wainwright III at The BBC – Aired on September 23, 2005

“Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms”
“Unrequited To The Nth Degree”
“Dump The Dog And Feed The Garbage”
“Glad To See You’ve Got Religion”
“Motel Blues”
“Rufus Is A Tit Man”
“Cardboard Boxes”
“Hitting You”
“Career Moves”

Dead Man -Filmed on May 24, 2010; recording session documentary

Entertainment Desk – Aired on Canadian television in 1995

“The End Has Begun” with Martha Wainwright

High Wide & Handsome – The Charlie Poole Project – Filmed in 2009 for documentary on making of album

“My Mother And My Sweetheart” with Rufus Wainwright

The Basement – Filmed in Sydney, Australia in 2008

“Needless To Say” with Lucy Wainwright Roche

Austin City Limits

“Lullaby” (January 13, 1988)
“Living Alone” (February 16, 1999)
“Homeless” (February 16, 1999)
“Tonya’s Twirls” (February 16, 1999)
“OGM” (February 16, 1999)

Saturday Night Live – Aired on NBC on November 15, 1975

“Unrequited To The Nth Degree”

The Garfield House – Filmed on May 24, 2010

“New Paint” with Joe Henry & Greg Leisz
“Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder” with Joe Henry & Greg Leisz
“Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms” with Christopher Guest
“June Apple” with Christopher Guest
“Unhappy Anniversary” with Christopher Guest
“Kings And Queens” with George Gerdes

826LA Benefit – Filmed on January 16, 2007

“Grey In L.A.”

PBS Soundstage – Aired on February 2, 1977

“Kick In The Head”

McCabe’s Guitar Shop – Filmed on February 3, 2007

“Passion Play”

The Mike Douglas Show – Aired on April 25, 1978

Interview and “Fear With Flying”

Nightline – Aired on ABC on June 22, 2005

“A Father And A Son”

Carrott Confidential – Aired on BBC on February 14, 1987


40 Odd Years will be released on May 3rd, and if you’re one of the first 200 to pre-order from Shout! Factory, you will receive an exclusive booklet signed by Loudon Wainwright III himself.