The Randy Newman Article

Ok, Ok, Ok. Randy Newman!!! I can’t stop gushing. I am pretty much in love with the man . The rub is that I have to make him interesting to YOU, the vaunted RVANews readership.

Ok, Ok, Ok. Randy Newman!!! I can’t stop gushing. I am pretty much in love with the man. The rub is that I have to make him interesting to YOU, the vaunted RVANews readership. Unfortunately for you guys the “higher-ups” over here have made the terrible mistake of giving me free reign over my content. FREE REIGN = RANDY NEWMAN!!! I have found in my vast research (i.e. blabbering away late into the night at Ipanema about how much I luv the Newms) that there are 4 levels of knowledge that you, the public, have about Randy Newman…

  1. You don’t know anything
  2. You know the Randy Newman caricature in the infamous Family Guy “apocalyptic” episode – maybe even MAD TV’s caricature of him.
  3. You know the former but you might even know I Love L.A. and Short People.
  4. You realize that Randy Newman is absolutely the flyest musician that you have ever heard

As you might have guessed I fall into the last and more distinguishable category. My job in the next few words is to try and convince you that “public knowledge level number 4” might just even slightly be a possibility that you are interested in obtaining. I’m not looking for any commitments here, just an open heart and willing mind.

The Newms lifetime stats and interesting facts

He has been nominated for 17 Academy Awards, 6 Golden Globes, 12 Grammys, and 2 Emmys. Out of all of those award nominations, he has won 7.

He was a professional songwriter at 17. Three Dog Night made a number one hit of his song “Mama Told Me Not to Come.” Harry Nilsson released an entire record of his songs, and others who have covered his music include Ray Charles, Nina Simone, Etta James, Dusty Springfield, Ricky Nelson, Joe Cocker, UB40, Bette Middler, Blood Sweat and Tears, Lou Rawls, Aaron Neville, The Animals, and Gladys Knight. READ THOSE NAMES AGAIN AND BE AMAZED AND CONFUSED!

He was signed to Reprise Records in 1968, making him contemporary label-mates of Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and Captain Beefheart.

His family includes Alfred Newman, Lionel Newman, Emil Newman, Thomas Newman, David Newman, and Joey Newman. If you don’t know who those are I will tell you. One of them, Alfred, is the most famous and archetypal film composer ever (45 effing Academy Award nominations – second ever behind Walt Disney) and the others are all A-list film composers whose work is too vast to even began listing. In addition, his father, not on that list, wrote a song for Bing Crosby.

He co-wrote ¡Three Amigos!.

He co-wrote ¡Three Amigos!

He co-wrote ¡Three Amigos! NOT THE MUSIC, THE FUNNY FUNNY WORDS!

Musical “excerpts”

The fact is that often when citing/discussing the Newms, folks get caught up in the stats because let’s face it, he has some cred: a number one hit, an Academy Award, a Grammy or two blah blah blah. The thing is that his “reputation” has little to do with what makes him amazing. Ok, so heres the game. You think in your mind what some Randy Newman lyrics might be or sound like and then I will reveal some not atypical samplings…GO!!!




…. Did they sound like this….


That’s about a newly-married man being bummed about his small and ineffective penis. Maybe, in your mind, they sounded like this….


That’s about “doing” a 19 year old prostitute whilst doing cocaine, perhaps simultaneously? Maybe you were thinking more like this….


Ok Ok. The Dude is dark. He is funny and he is depressing like whoa! The song “Sail Away”, covered by a billion and one peeps, starts like this…


Sounds nice enough. It is about a slave trader trying to convince an African boy to get on his ship.

Final Analysis

Randy Newman’s career follows a consistent path. He releases albums, critics and nerds like Josh Small and I love them, and then no one buys them. He has managed, of course, to become an extravagantly successful film composer. But I think, in my humble opinion, that the real gold lies in his solo records. In his unique view of American culture, and in his penetratingly sarcastic views on politics, gender and race. Sure, he has kind of a funny voice that sounds kinda like a toad, is a little funny-looking and wrote Short People and I Love L.A. He also composed the scores to all those Pixar movies and wrote some memorable songs for Toy Story. But sometimes, at night, I think that since in no way, shape, or form he fits what we traditionally say is an “artist” or “pop star” and he has himself shirked traditional success, we write off one of the best songwriters, arrangers and composers in our lifetime as a fat, funny sounding, Toy Story-composing, goofy old man. The awesome thing is that he is all of those things. Go read about him some more, download a record or two, and see if he isn’t supa supa supa tight. Or find me some late night at Ipanema where I will talk your ear off about The Ray-New.

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Matthew E. White

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