Rufus Wainwright premiered the timely, politically charged “Sword of Damocles” on The Late Late Show on Thursday night (Oct. 18). While the 45-year-old previously made a name for himself as a pop singer, he’s continued to channel his opera side with his latest release.
The song is inspired by the effect the American government’s collapse has had on society. “The famed, ancient expression ‘Sword of Damocles’ is a parable of impending doom of and to those in positions of power,” Wainwright explained in a statement. “This timeless tale points out the hard fact that with great power, comes great responsibility, and for all concerned, great danger.”
Wainwright’s voice was accompanied by a single grand piano. He stood on a small stage illuminated by purple lights, instantly captivating the audience with the song’s doomy lyrics.
“Release/ The sword of Damocles,” began Wainwright, his smooth voice passionately stringing out the notes. Around halfway through, the song rose a key, allowing its simplistic beauty to take flight. “Trust me, you are not the one and only/ Lonely person” reassured Wainwright by the end, sending his support to those negatively impacted by the current political climate. “Raise kindness/ Above all else/ Avoid the books of/ Hatred behind the shelves.”
Watch Wainwright’s Late Late Show performance below.