Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Randy Tuesdays #1: Where else am I going to start?


1. Randy Newman

Randy Newman is a mystery wrapped in an enigma with oxymoronic tendencies that lead to a serious dichotomy. On the one hand, he wrote some of the most razor sharp, acerbic lyrical throwdowns of the 60s, 70s and 80s: brickbats such as Rednecks, God's Song and Short People that took sarcastic songwriting to a whole new level. And let's face it, this particular track, written in 1972, is more appropriate today than ever...



On the other, he ended up writing heartfelt ballads for Pixar films, most notably Toy Story's You've Got A Friend In Me, a song guaranteed to force a lump into the throat of even the most hard-hearted cynic (i.e. me). Actually, I think that must be why Pixar gave him the job... and why he did it so well. I've resisted watching any of the Toy Story films for the last 20 years because of my severe Hanks allergy, but I finally relented for Sam's benefit and found them both enjoyable and moving... as long as I hammer nails into my ears whenever Woody speaks, I can really see their appeal. If you want sentiment without saccharine... yeah, Randy Newman was a good call.

Anyway, I've been a fan of our first and foremost Randy for a great many years, but the song that initially brought him to my attention was the glorious 80s pop sunbeam of I Love L.A., a recording that truly manages to have its cake, eat it, then throw the cake back up again... and go back for another piece. You know he's taking the piss, but you also know he genuinely loves the place. No song sums up the curious contradictions of Randy Newman better than this one...



17 comments:

  1. Yes! Two strong choices there - and two good reasons why I listen to the man's music so much. Before there was Toy Story, he sang a song always "guaranteed to force a lump into the throat" of this particular hard-hearted cynic - and that's "Marie", with "Texas Girl At The Funeral Of Her Father" a close second.
    Yes, a lot of his music is cynical (and downright dark - e.g. "In Germany Before The War") but, as you said his music is a mass of contradictions.
    In many songs - such as Marie, Texas Girl and I Think It's Going To Rain Today - his heart is right on the line. They are songs filled with raw emotion and for me, all the better for that. And that's why I LOVE RN!

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  2. A great first Randy post (but scary how a 45-year-old song resonates so much today) - My daughter was just the right age for the Toy Story movies as they came out so my more recent memories are of him are from those heart-warming signature songs but I'm also old enough to remember his earlier solo stuff which was very clever as you say. One of my 8 Randys so still not sure who your extra 2 are going to be.

    More cake though - it's popping up all over the place at the moment!

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    1. Of course, there's no guarantee I will use all your 8...

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    2. Good point - I was making assumptions when really it's going to be more of a Venn diagram affair isn't it - Wonder how big or small the overlappy bit is going to be!

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  3. Must be the best Randy them all, I'd say. Love the man.

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  4. Thanks to you I've paid attention to the lyrics of songs I wouldn't normally give much time to - so whilst his music itself is not for me I think I could happily just read the excellent words. Political Science (Let's Drop The Big One) in particular is just so scarily near the mark... perfect choice for today.

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    1. I wish those lyrics represented a long-forgotten past we could look back on now as the dark days... as it is, I'd swap the early 70s for today any day.

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  5. As a Dad, I think of his Disney songs first these days. That's probably a sad commentary, but those songs are pretty special. Curious about who will be next.

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    1. That's why he was such an inspired choice by Disney / Pixar.

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  6. I only really know his early work, 'Political Science' is almost too close to home to be enjoyable at the moment.

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    1. The sad thing is, if you played it to Trump, he'd probably see it as a supportive lyric.

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