Monday, June 22, 2009

I promised something about Randy Newman, so here it is, my second-to-last post ever (?) on this blog. Here’s an amusing video that sums up the dilemma of being Randy Newman quite well (almost as well as Greil Marcus’s musings on the man in Mystery Train):



Newman has long been the unsung genius of pop songwriting. When The Chills wrote “Song for Randy Newman Etc.” they placed him in a pop landscape that included Brian Wilson, Scott Walker and Nick Drake. You might call him the original of Stephin Merritt, a man who works like hell churning out won’t-be hits with an endlessly moldable formula. Newman has just never been ambitious enough for great fame, or his ambitions have merely been cumulative—a body of work composed of two-minute glimpses into the lives of despicable people. You might find him offensive if he didn’t hate his characters as much as you do.

Here’s a great example of his method, a song that could never ever be a hit single in a million years but that is so much more pleasurable and repeatable than just about anything I’ve ever heard on the radio. This narrator’s not despicable though, just sad, self-doubting, a bit funny.

[mp3] Randy Newman - "Memo To My Son"

2 Comments:

Blogger aaron said...

that video is pretty great. i wonder if it's possible to choose a less offensive group to jokingly target than the short. i guess people can't take a joke.

6:58 PM  
Blogger Geoff said...

Yeah, I think that's the point of the song. Um, people with a peanut allergy?

6:53 PM  

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