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Friday October 24, 2014
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Randy Newman

 

continued

Randy Newman sing about rednecks.

I had forgotten how many great songs Randy Newman has written. He sang and played piano, without a band — an unassuming, bespectacled man more resembling a high school science teacher than a pop icon. I was slowly entranced by his clever compositions, one after another, spanning a career that started, I think, in the 1960s — some made famous by him, others as hits for other artists. Some I was hearing for the first time (my kids being grown, I've missed out on Newman's songs in Ragtime, The Natural, Toy Story I & II, A Bug's Life, James and the Giant Peach, Monsters, Inc., and on and on). But there were plenty I recognized and was happy to hear again: "I remember this!" "He wrote that?" "Oh, yeah!"

One song about a girl was so sad that the audience sat in silence for several stunned seconds before breaking into applause. Newman's "Political Science" was as relevant today as it was when I first heard it back in 1972. Then came the sing-along "I'm Dead (but I Don't Know It)," about an over-the-hill rock star who won't quit: "I've got nothing left to say. I'm gonna say it anyway. . . . I'm dead and I don't know it." ("You're dead!" screamed the audience. "You're dead!")

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