Album: Lifetime Achievement (2022)
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Songfacts®:

  • Loudon Wainwright III recorded "One Wish" for his 25th studio album, Lifetime Achievement.

    The record contains several tracks where Wainwright reflects on his advancing age. Two songs have birthday themes: "How Old is 75?" finds Wainwright musing on his forthcoming 75th birthday, while this song is a rumination on the custom of blowing out candles on a birthday cake.
  • Here, Wainwright struggles to blow out his many birthday candles. When he first recorded "One Wish" with regular collaborators Dick Connette and Stewart Lerman, they tried it with a guitar accompaniment but it didn't feel right. Then he sang it a cappella, and that worked much better.

    "Could it be because blowing out birthday candles is usually a solitary activity?" Wainwright suggested to Uncut magazine.
  • The custom of blowing out candles on a birthday cake is believed to have originated in ancient Greece. The Greeks made round cakes to honor Artemis, the goddess of the moon, which were often decorated with candles to represent the lunar glow.

    The tradition of making a wish when you blow out birthday candles also came from the Ancient Greeks, who believed the smoke carried your wishes upwards to the gods. In the Middle Ages, the Germans celebrated birthdays with a special cake called "Geburtstagorten," which was decorated with candles. These candles were believed to represent the light of life and the person's journey through it.

    The custom of placing candles on birthday cakes has evolved over time, but the practice of blowing them out while making a wish is still a beloved tradition.

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