Sunday, February 21, 2016

365 True Things: 329/Music

Back when I was a teenager starting to get interested in popular culture, I'd read the Los Angeles Times Calendar section on Sundays looking for knowledge, guidance, intelligence. One day I stumbled on an article that presented musical movers and shakers' favorite albums from that year, 1970. (Joni Mitchell was featured, I recall. Mick Jagger too, I believe.) On every other top-ten list was Twelve Songs by Randy Newman.

I've always loved lists; indeed, that article may well be where I got started with this love affair. So I dashed out and bought Twelve Songs. And Randy Newman immediately became one of those desert island performers for me. In fact, if I could only bring one album to that island? It might even be Twelve Songs. 

Side one
  1. Have You Seen My Baby? – 2:32
  2. Let's Burn Down the Cornfield – 3:03
  3. Mama Told Me Not to Come – 2:12
  4. Suzanne – 3:15
  5. Lover's Prayer – 1:55
  6. Lucinda – 2:40
  7. Underneath the Harlem Moon (by Mack Gordon and Harry Revel) – 1:52
Side two
  1. Yellow Man – 2:19
  2. Old Kentucky Home – 2:40
  3. Rosemary – 2:08
  4. If You Need Oil – 3:00
  5. Uncle Bob's Midnight Blues – 2:15
The other night I was working on some tedious editing and David asked if I'd like some music. I hadn't thought of Randy in a while, but I asked for one of the many LPs of his we own. Sail Away came on. Such an excellent album. (Yeah, actually: that would be my desert island album, if I only got one.)

This evening while cooking dinner, we put on a multi-CD set called Guilty: 30 Years of Randy Newman. So many favorites.

Here's Randy singing "Sail Away" and "I Think It's Going to Rain Today." The first is satirical. He very often writes from a made-up persona's POV. The second has been covered by 68 other artists, including Joe Cocker, Eric Burdon, Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, Nina Simone, Madeleine Peyroux, and Peter Gabriel.

And here's a short humorous British documentary about him.

We went to hear Randy Newman in concert a few times back in the late 70s/early 80s. Just him and a piano. We knew his songs by heart. I didn't sing along, but I certainly do now when we put his LPs/CDs on. What an amazing songwriter.

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