Rufus Wainwright’s ‘You Ain’t Big’ Lyric Video Delves Into Civil Rights Movement

Rufus Wainwright

Rufus Wainwright has always had a knack for delivering strong messages in a subtle yet impactful way. And his new “You Ain’t Big” lyric video does exactly that.

While the song is was initially written as an “apolitical” tune, “You Ain’t Big” has a new meaning with the visuals that Wainwright chose for the clip. Staring with a 1950s clip that shows two men discussing work-life, the visual takes you on a road trip throughout the heartland of America. But while you enjoy throwback images of life back then, images of the civil rights movement juxtaposed with videos of people fighting to keep schools segregated were weaved throughout.

Wainwright released a statement about how the song was meant to point out that it was hard to make it into the music industry if you were in a small town. However, with the protests against racism and fight for social justice, the song has evolved into something else completely.

The singer-songwriter said:

“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 US you weren’t really considered a true star. 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. The song at heart is apolitical. Its vintage sound harkens back to the classical American country music sound of the 40s and 50s and with the help of opposing images in the video of how different life was for white people compared to black people in the 1950’s, as it has sadly remained, I think it rings appropriate for this time and professes a certain truth.”

Watch Rufus Wainwright’s lyric video for “You Ain’t Big” below.


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