Thursday, May 11, 2017

Hodgepodge 194/365 - Randy Newman

Driving down to LA this afternoon, a five-hour trip, we fired up Spotify: first Bonnie Raitt, who performed, among other things, a version of "Guilty" by Randy Newman. Randy! I used to listen to him a lot, and we saw him in concert many times back in the late 70s/early 80s. So when we decided to switch things up, I asked for him.

I'd forgotten how many animated films he's written scores for, including all three Toy Storys, Cars, A Bug's Life, Monsters, and The Princess Frog. Also the feature films Ragtime, Seabiscuit, and others. His first composition for film or TV was in 1962 (he would have been eighteen—it probably didn't hurt that three of his uncles were well-known film composers), for an episode of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Ha ha, that takes me back.

But it's his mordant, often satirical songs that I especially love. He must be one of the most geographically oriented songwriters out there, with tunes that feature Baltimore, Miami, Cleveland (specifically, the polluted Cuyahoga River: "the Lord can make you tumble, the Lord can make you turn, the Lord can make you overflow—but the Lord can't make you burn"), Louisiana, and of course his hometown, L.A. (He lives in the Mandeville Canyon area off Sunset.)

Here's "I Love L.A." Sixth Street!

And here's a 30-minute British profile of him called "I Am, Unfortunately, Randy Newman":

Happy to have remembered him today. When I get home, I might pull out the 4-CD collection of his greatest song hits and give the whole thing a listen.

P.S. (5/23) Turns out I wrote about Randy last year! I thought that British profile looked familiar. Well, no matter. I still like him and am always happy to be reminded of him.

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