Thursday, August 14, 2008
Randy Newman has a new album of pop music out this month, his first in like 9 years or something (I don't feel like looking it up).
For those of you that only know him as the "You Got a Friend in Me" singer from "Toy Story" or a punch line from that one "Family Guy" episode, you are missing one of the most sarcastic, hilarious and satirical singer/songwriters of the last 50 years. His words from the '70s never sounded better, and since I don't have his new CD yet, I'm just gonna go ahead and write about his old shiit. Admittedly, I don't own his entire catalog, and for anyone that actually lived during his heyday this list might seem a little base and obvious, whatever.
1. "Political Science"
Aptly scrapes the war hawks and uber-nationalist blowhards that would have nuked Korea, China, Vietnam, USSR and probably Iraq and Iran too if given the chance.
I want to just c/p the whole lyrics, but I'll pick two stanzas:
"We'll save Australia / Don't wanna hurt no kangaroo / We'll build an All American amusement park there / They got surfin', too / Boom goes London and boom Paris / More room for you and more room for me / And every city the whole world round / Will just be another American town / Oh, how peaceful it will be / We'll set everybody free / You'll wear a Japanese kimono / And there will be Italian shoes for me
Like any classic Newman song, the irony and sarcasm get so wound around itself by the end of the song that you can't do anything but laugh and smile at the end of the world and its accompanying stupidity. You wouldn't even be able to sing this song without offending some bird-brained soccer mom. I'll let you look up the lyrics or listen to it yourself. Fucking perfect.
3. "Rider in the Rain"
I could be missing something here, but this might be Newman in sincere mode. It's a little country, no piano, just lap-steel guitar, horse trottin' guitar, drums and easy goin' backing vocals.
4. "I Love LA"
On the surface this sounds like a slice of '80s Huey Lewis and the News schlockin' pop. It's been used in countless feel good movies and maybe even a campaign or two. Paying closer attention to the lyrics reveal just how sarcastic the chanted "I love LA / we love it" chorus really is:
"Look at that mountain / Look at those trees / Look at that bum over there, man / He's down on his knees / Look at these women / There ain't nothin' like em nowhere"
5. "Louisiana 1927"
This is Newman with the swelling strings in the background, lush melodies, historical subject matter, not the old grump tinkering away at the keys. He still has that Bourbon attitude and general distaste for BS.
6. "Mr. President"
Newman's back at the piano, without the strings (until the end) but with a small horn section and a shuffling rhythm section, singing a plea to the President to have "pity for the working man."
7. "You Can Leave Your Hat On"
I crack up every time Newman sings "yes, yes, yes" after telling the woman hes talking to in the song to take off her dress. His mush mouth vocals sound like Fat Albert or Elmer Fud about to get it on. As usual, Newman mixes his absurd humour with some actual heart-felt emotions.
8. "Short People"
Sticks it to the bigots and racists better than any punk band ever could, I don't care that he says the song isn't about anything more than a ridiculous idea.
9. "It's Money that I Love"
"I don't love the mountains
And I don't love the sea
And I don't love Jesus
He never done a thing for me
I ain't pretty like my sister
Or smart like my dad
Or good like my mama
It's Money That I Love
They say that money
Can't buy love in this world
But it'll get you a half-pound of cocaine
And a sixteen-year old girl
And a great big long limousine
On a hot September night
Now that may not be love
But it is all right
Used to worry about the poor
But I don't worry anymore
Used to worry about the black man
Now I don't worry about the black man
Used to worry about the starving children of India
You know what I say about the starving children of India ?
I say, "Oh mama"
It's Money That I Love"
10. "The Great Nations of Europe"
"The Great Nations of Europe had gathered on the shore
they'd conquered what was behind them and now they wanted more
so they looked to the mighty ocean and took to the western sea
The great nations of europe in the 16th century
Hide your wives and daughters, hide the groceries too
The great nations of europe comin through
The Grand Canary Islands first land to which they came
they slaughtered all the canaries there which gave the land its name
there were natives there called guanches, guanches by the score
bullet's, disease the portugese, they weren't there any more
balboa found the pacific and on the trail one day
he met some friendly indians whom he was told were gay
so he had them torn apart by dogs on religious grounds they say
the great nations of europe were quite holy in their way
hide your wives and daughters, hide your sons as well
with the great nations of europe you never can tell
where you and i are standing at the end of a century
europes have sprung up everywhere as even i can see
but there on the horizon is the possiblity
that some bug from out of africa might come for you and me
destroying everything in it's path from sea to shining sea
like the great nations of europe in the 16th century"
11. "You Got a Friend in Me"
Yeah, yeah yeah, fuck off. I like this song.
12. "Sail Away"
Maybe his most well known song.