Randy Newman - vocals, piano
Long after most of fans listening to music today are dead and gone, it is a safe bet that music historians will look back on the career of Randy Newman and declare him one of the greatest song writers of his time. Having written dozens of successful pop songs and film soundtracks dating back to 1962, Newman is arguably the most prolific and important modern day composer since Bob Dylan.
In his career, which has lasted nearly five decades, he has seen and done it all. He wrote a bevy of pop hits for other stars including Three Dog Night, Joe Cocker, Judy Collins, Harry Nilsson, Dusty Springfield, Peggy Lee and others; had several hits of his own (the most famous and controversial being a ditty called "Short People," in 1977), and has won both Oscars and Grammys for the dozens of film soundtracks he has recorded, including that of Monsters Inc..
This wonderful solo performance dates back to 1974, when Newman had just released an ambitious concept album about racism and struggle in the Deep South entitled Good Ole Boys. It roughly chronicles the story of Governor Huey Long, who was a complex politician, adored by many for his commitment to the common working man and hated by others for his eventually corruption. He was assassinated in 1935.
Within the content of Good Ole Boys, Newman tells the story of Long; a musical account of the flood of 1927 that nearly wiped out most of Louisiana; and offers a biting satire of modern day racism in the song, "Rednecks." Sung in the first person, as the character of the racist, the irony is that many misunderstood what Newman was trying to point out in "Rednecks" and saw it as his own offensive statement. He clarifies that during his version in this performance.
Aside from a good chunk of Good Ole Boys, Newman offers many of his other pop classics, including "You Can Leave Your Hat On," "I Think It's Going To Rain Today " and "Sail Away." Although Newman has performed occasionally with a full band, this is Newman as most of us have always seen him in concert: alone with only his piano. Certainly not one of the most energetic performers on the scene, the magic of Randy Newman in concert comes strictly from his brilliant songs and his own quirky way of presenting them in their most naked form.
His ability to so effectively represent the common American inside of his or her own typical existence is remarkable for Newman, who came from an elite Hollywood family - his two uncles were Academy Award winning film soundtrack composers - and Newman himself would eventually be an Oscar winner himself for the soundtrack to Toy Story II. For those of you eager to hear Newman alone with his brilliant compositions, this show is a must. His art is a compelling statement that strikes deep into the heart of Americana.