Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Randy Newman: Songbook Vol. 1

Randy Newman is mostly known for being the man who wrote You can leave your hat on, later covered with huge success by Joe Cocker for that infamous movie. But Newman has a great
career in itself: he is an extremely talented piano player, singer and composer, who has been spending this last part of his career writing soundtracks (lots of Disney movies, like Toy Story for instance), and for which he has been at last awarded with an oscar in 2001. But the man is such a non-politically correct persona that he "thanked" the academy -that had nominated him 15 times before but in vain- for having humiliated him so many times...
Not really your typical american songwiter, eh?
Anyway, Newman's work is wonderful a mixture of ragtime, pop-rock, chamber music and old time balladry and all of this is usually served with a witty and caustic humour that makes you want to laugh while at the same time you may not be not so much confortable with it.
A very good example is on Rednecks, which is a song on racist rednecks told by rednecks.
But is this "Songbook Vol. 1" the usual best of? Not quite. It is in fact Newman re-playing -this time only for piano and voice, that is just as he has written them- his best songs from his early -and my favourite- career. And if you want to have a taste of his humour here are God's Song (That's Why I Love Mankind)'s words:

Cain slew Abel, Seth knew not why
For if the children of Israel were to multiply
Why must any of the children die?
So he asked the Lord
And the Lord said:

Man means nothing, he means less to me
Than the lowliest cactus flower
Or the humblest Yucca tree
He chases round this desert
'Cause he thinks that's where I'll be
That's why I love mankind

I recoil in horror from the foulness of thee
From the squalor and the filth and the misery
How we laugh up here in heaven at the prayers you offer me
That's why I love mankind

The Christians and the Jews were having a jamboree
The Buddhists and the Hindus joined on satellite TV
They picked their four greatest priests
And they began to speak
They said, "Lord, a plague is on the world
Lord, no man is free
The temples that we built to you
Have tumbled into the sea
Lord, if you won't take care of us
Won't you please, please let us be?"
And the Lord said
And the Lord said

I burn down your cities-how blind you must be
I take from you your children and you say how blessed are we
You all must be crazy to put your faith in me
That's why I love mankind
You really need me
That's why I love mankind

Randy Newman on Wiki.

Songbook Vol. 1


bluesmutt said...

Thanks for your great blog. The Richard Thompson post is awesome.

This link for Randy Newman has gone bad. Please re-upload the Songbook.

Jorge said...

I just found this blog (looking for Robert Wyatt on Google...) and I am amazed by the High Quality of the music posted here. Thank you for taking some time to share these pearls for strangers like me.

Best regards

Jorbatis, from Lisbon-Portugal

P. S.: The Randy Newman link has been deleted... pity..