Thursday, June 9, 2011

And Speaking Of Randy Newman...

A few things I've learned from yesterday's discussion:

Paul Simon is a cranky old man.

Not everyone enjoys making lists.

People love The Beatles.

People "appreciate" Bob Dylan, which really means, they don't like him. (Like when people say "That's funny," instead of actually laughing at something.)

If you have an unpleasant singing voice, people pay less attention to your songwriting, no matter how brilliant.

And speaking of Randy Newman, here is a fab show from the BBC, recorded late last year at St. Luke's. Newman is one of my heroes, and this performance shows why. Always engaging, often hilarious, and occasionally heartbreaking, Randy Newman is an American treasure. There are few songs that can stop me dead in my tracks the way "Marie" can.  (And I think there's a live Paul Simon version out there somewhere.)


Short People
Mama Told Me Not To Come
God's Song
The World Isn't Fair
Louisiana 1927
You Can Leave Your Hat On
I Miss You
Laugh & Be Happy
Political Science
Love Story
Feels Like Home
A Few Words In Defense Of Our Country
Sail Away
I Think It's Going To Rain Today



A guy called Tak said...

I agree with you on "Randy Newman is a national treasure".He is somehow ignored because his most well-known song is "Short People". And the second? - "I Love L.A."
Newman may not be able to write "Like A Rolling Stone" but then, Dylan can not write the song like "Marie".

This BBC stuff is priceless.
Thanks, Sal.

Sammy said...

i've always liked randy newman...and this just reminded me i've got his "vol. 1" on back order at least these bbc tracks will hold me for a while...thanks

soundsource said...

hey he's not a bad songwriter ya know (actually kind of great as per previous day's post I prefer him to Rhymin' guy any ol day)

James A. Gardner said...

And people respond with "Indeed" when they want to be non-committal.

For anyone who want's to like Randy Newman's music but claim they can't get around his voice, I always play Nilsson Sings Newman. Just about perfect.

Fred Smithson said...

Thanks for this show! You're on a roll lately - enjoying your blog.

Anonymous said...

I hope people ignore whatever preconceptions they have about Randy and give this a try. If they just think of him as that Oscar show/soundtrack guy they are in for a shock and a treat. As for Bob and the BBC, here's a link to a BBC radio show (56mins) that should convince ANYONE smart enough to be a reader of your blog.

big bad wolf said...

i'm late to this but i want to say i love bob dylan. i don't think anyone, including randy newman, is anywhere near the lyricist bob is. and i think bob is a great vocalist; of course, he doesn't have a beautiful singing voice, but he has stunning control of nuance and makes the most of his cadence and pauses. i'm not sure anyone but sinatra had more control.

that said, i think simon was going for great songwriting as songs that have clever, even insightful, lyrics with a tune you can hum or that gets stuck in your head becuase of the beauty of the meoldy. that's a wonderful skill. it ain't the one bob picked to emphasize, and it makes him hard to put on a list with macca or simon or van heusen or gershwin or arlen or smokey. i think bob wrote lyrics that were smarter, more insightful, and more aware of the contigencies and vagaries of lived life than any of them, but i can see how he is apart from them in a melodic way that could cause someone to leave him off their list of song songwriters.

newman has more of the melodic songwriting chops than bob, but randy, imo, is also a bit too fond of his own cleverness. his lyrics and his delivery of them sound satisfied by themselves. bob has a starkness and doubt that makes him more profound and wise, i think.

finally, bob's last 15 years has had as many great songs as anyone's 15 years, with the possibly exception of his first 15. those who write as if bob was done after blonde on blonde or even blood on the tracks have missed much. (as for what a brilliant vocalist bob is an instructive thing to do is listen to the three versions of mississippi, one on love and theft, two on tell-tale signs. each version brings out differing details of the story in a way that slightly shifts the tale).

wiggle wiggle. i try to block that out. i was going on twenty years of success.

Anonymous said...

Big Bad Wolf: brilliant summary of Bob's virtues. And yes, Randy IS a little too pleased with himself sometimes, evident especially in his concerts..BUT not very often in his studio albums. Nevertheless, we're lucky to have had both of them around for so long.
Thanks Sal

Anything Should Happen said...

Dunno if you want it Salster but there's a seven part (count 'em) documentary series on Paul Simon just ending on BBC 6 Music.

Seven hours of the diminutive one is a fair challenge obviously.

You know where to get me.

On Dylan, I can admire the songwriting of the first 15 years, but not much else and his recent stuff has been akin to McCartney and his Everybody's Gonna Dance Tonight tosh.

I can go with the Newman voice bit, a lot find my beloved Ian Hunter the same.

steve simels said...

He really is a genius, for want of a better word.

Have I mentioned I love, nay lurve, his score for THE NATURAL?

steves said...

I have been listening to Bob Dylan for the vast majority of my time on this space pebble, and while I'm as much in awe of his incredible talents as anyone, I don't buy into the indiscriminate, "Bob's on fire" fan worship.

It's great that he's still with us, still writing, and, er, performing. But if you can't see that the man's abilities have been greatly diminished in the last decade or so--as he himself seemed to admit on 60 Minutes several years ago--and even downright painful at times to listen to ('Christmas in the Heart,' anyone?) well...good luck to you.

That said, Simon is still a dick. And Randy Newman is still great.

Noam Sane said...

Just grabbed this, thanks Sal. And yesterday's thread was a real treat. What a great blog. Cheers.

Peter said...

Much obliged, Sal.

A walk in the woods said...

big bad wolf,

Love what you wrote. You nailed it. I love all the songwriters here, and as someone else said it's not a "competition" or zero-sum game, but in the end, if I had to pick just one, it would certainly be Dylan.

elizabeth said...

(So many good comments yesterday and today!)
I like lists, Dylan and the Beatles. Not so much solo Paul.
I like Lennon's Rock 'n Roll.
I like old Dylan, like new Dylan, and a concert a couple of years ago (with a solo Elvis Costello opening) is on my list the best I've ever been to. As a songwriter, I can't think of anyone I'd compare him to -which has nothing to do with who's best. But I can see Paul M being more to Paul S's taste than Dylan. For me, Lennon/McCartney is far superior to McCartney.

And I really like Randy Newman, so thanks for the show.