The Minority Report: Randy Newman
Yes, we've all seen the Family guy clip, lampooning Randy Newman for his lackadaisical approach to song writing. Funny stuff. Good for a few chuckles between bites of reheated Tombstone pizza for sure.
But, the inaccuracy of the caricature aside, try walking up to your average Joe (or Joan) on the street. Ask them what they think of Nilsson Sings Newman, or Good Old Boys, and see what sort of bewildered expressions meet you.
His contentious career as a film composer (for some reason, people still have an axe to grind against Pixar) has done a great deal to eclipse Newman's stellar solo career. Fortunately, Gimme Noise never leaves home without our ultraviolet shades and a pinhole viewbox. Click below the jump for three reasons each and every one of you should love Randy Newman.
Randy Newman performing "Rednecks" live. The easily incensed may want to avert their ears.
1. "Rednecks"-- Newman has always landed himself in hot water with his especially dry sense of satire ("Short People" got him banned on the radio by dimwits who couldn't see the commentary at work in the song and thought he was actually launching a polemic against the vertically disadvantaged).
But nowhere is his sense of social commentary, and his boldness to leave no taboo unturned, more evident than on "Rednecks," a rabid character piece that leaves the good old boys of the American south roasting on a spit. In addition to being a brilliant song with staggering historical depth, it is one of the only examples in popular music of a white man saying the "n" word. Feel how you will about it, anyone who bothers to take a close look at the song could never fault him for going easy on the white race.
2. The Randy Newman Songbook-- There's greatest hits collections, and then there's greatest hits collections. Newman has had his fair share of both. But for anyone who scoffed at his fully orchestrated works of the 70s, the Randy Newman Songbook is the place to start. It features Newman at his most sparing, as he, alone at a piano, performs his great hits in a manner that is so straightforward and so lacking in pretense that even dreadfully familiar works, like Louisiana 1927, will leave you breathless.
3. The Natural score-- Are you kidding? An ode to everything that reeks of pinetar. Baseball has never sounded so sweet.
The final scene of The Natural, scored by Randy Newman.