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In Defense Of Our Country
February 5, 2007 2:56 AM   Subscribe


 
Damn, just noticed the lyrics link is to an abridged version. Full lyrics here.
posted by gfrobe at 3:02 AM on February 5, 2007


meh, is this what passes for protest music these days?
posted by Saucy Intruder at 3:10 AM on February 5, 2007


"You know, a president once said,
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself
Now it seems like we’re supposed to be afraid. It’s patriotic, in fact.
Afraid of what? Why, afraid of being afraid.
That’s what terror means, isn’t it?"

I love Randy Newman. Lyrics to his other good stuff.
posted by nickyskye at 3:22 AM on February 5, 2007


"meh, is this what passes for protest music these days?"

"Protest" music, like any other type of music, should ideally come in many forms and flavors. Newman's particular brand of socio-political commentary in the form of music has always come with a healthy dollop of humor, and this new little ditty is no exception. For me, it's that humor that has helped make Randy Newman one of the greatest "protest" singers of our era.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:25 AM on February 5, 2007


Yes, I had thought that if you had an acoustic guitar it meant you could be a protest singer.
Even so, I imagine that Randy Newman has a wider audience than, say, Ani DiFranco, and given that heretofore he's been known as a crooning balladeer rather than for raging against the establishment, this will get heard.
posted by Flashman at 3:43 AM on February 5, 2007


What a strange song. I don't know how I feel about it.
posted by zardoz at 3:51 AM on February 5, 2007


It's not bad.
posted by bardic at 3:57 AM on February 5, 2007


Ah yes, the crooning balladeer who gave us Short People and those romantic standards It's Money That Matters, Political Science, Roll With the Punches, and The World Isn't Fair.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:58 AM on February 5, 2007


"given that heretofore he's been known as a crooning balladeer rather than for raging against the establishment..."

Newman has long included socio-political commentary (usually couched in very wry and/or dark humor) in his repertoire of songs, addressing racism, the despoiling of the environment, the corruption and ineptitude of politicians in the wake of natural disasters, etc. Here's something of a little primer, worth reading (though I wouldn't agree with all the points it makes) if you're unaware of the "protest" aspect of some of Newman's recorded output.

"What a strange song. I don't know how I feel about it."

Interesting, people have been saying that for years about Newman's songs. He doesn't always make it easy for people to know exactly where he's coming from. I think he revels in keeping people a little of-balance, even making them angry.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:13 AM on February 5, 2007


Er, that's off-balance.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:15 AM on February 5, 2007


see also
The Great Nations of Europe by RN
posted by decaturcomp at 4:18 AM on February 5, 2007


Wow, I never would've thought the man who gave us 'Arthur's Theme' could also be so edgy.
posted by Flashman at 4:22 AM on February 5, 2007




He's Hooked on Ebonics.
posted by Smart Dalek at 4:39 AM on February 5, 2007


Although it's mildly interesting, it didn't do much for me, either patriotically or aesthetically. But then, I'm still astonished to think that the guy who wrote "Short People" and "You've Got A Friend In Me" also wrote the score to the 1984 film The Natural, so I expected better when I saw the name "Randy Newman."

Remember how, in Toy Story, Woody exasperatedly tells Buzz, "That's not flying; that's...*gasp*...falling with style!"? Well, this isn't really a Randy Newman song, as I've become accustomed to them; it's just thinking out loud with some piano riffing.

In 1985, Joe Jackson covered this topic much more musically and meaningfully with the song "Forty Years Ago." (lyrics)
posted by pax digita at 5:01 AM on February 5, 2007


meh, is this what passes for protest music these days?

I will never understand why people go to the trouble of typing "meh". It's like the nihilism of stoner cool without being stoned or cool.
posted by srboisvert at 5:03 AM on February 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


He's no Mark Russell. That song is no "I'm Just a Bill." Not sure the public is ready for his point of view, either. Kind of dark.

Sounds like that guy who sings while I'm crying in the sad parts of those Pixar movies. Maybe we could get him to do a "Crow" about Grecian Formula? (if he's not on The List)
posted by hal9k at 5:05 AM on February 5, 2007


The terror thing is clever, but the Clarence Thomas thing seems kinda unncecessary.
posted by thirteenkiller at 5:06 AM on February 5, 2007


Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager are responsible for Arthur's Theme, Flashman.
posted by rfs at 5:08 AM on February 5, 2007


I will never understand why people go to the trouble of typing "meh".

to impress you with how unimpressed they are.

And I'll take Randy Newman's complexity and humor (to say nothing of his musicianship and songcraft) over simplistic sloganeering any day of the fuckin' week.
posted by jonmc at 5:16 AM on February 5, 2007


"meh" is sorta useless, absent articulating why you're meh-ing. Otherwise, we don't care that you don't care, in case you care. ("Metafilter: ... ")
posted by pax digita at 5:21 AM on February 5, 2007


mehtafilter?
posted by logicpunk at 5:30 AM on February 5, 2007


Metafilter: meh
posted by zardoz at 5:36 AM on February 5, 2007


To derail while staying musically oriented, sure, Mehtafilter indeed.
posted by pax digita at 5:42 AM on February 5, 2007


Newman's "Political Science" is worth a listen, too.

No one likes us
I don't know why
We may not be perfect
But Heaven knows, we try
But all around
Even our old friends put us down
Let's drop the big one
And see what happens....

posted by Flunkie at 5:55 AM on February 5, 2007


I'm sorry but did someone say "He's no Mark Russell"?

I assume that was meant as the highest of compliments.

Because Mark Russell is the epitome of the toothless, witless Beltway court-toady. And his "musical" "humor" an exemplar of the timid poking that passes for political comedy among old white people with Georgetown addresses.

So, yeah, Randy Newman is no Mark Russell.
And John Coltrane was no Kenny G.
posted by the sobsister at 6:19 AM on February 5, 2007


He's no Mark Russell. That song is no "I'm Just a Bill." Not sure the public is ready for his point of view, either. Kind of dark.

Thank God. Mark Russell has his moments, but he couldn't carry Randy's shoes. If you're not familiar with Randy's sarcasm and humanity, pick up a copy of Sail Away, his album from 1972.

Newman is one of the most intelligent songwriters of my generation. He's a master of using ugly to expose ugly. Unfortunately, he receives what I call the "Mark Twain Syndrome" reception from so many people who can't see past the language to the point. Just read the idiotic comments on the YouTube link, and you'll see what I mean.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:22 AM on February 5, 2007


I chuckled
posted by matteo at 6:36 AM on February 5, 2007


I feel that the phrase "these days" should be banned from lyrics and speeches.
posted by The White Hat at 6:37 AM on February 5, 2007




Sounds like that guy who sings while I'm crying in the sad parts of those Pixar movies.

Done tipped your hand, hal9k. You had me at "Mark Russell".

Randy Newman doesn't care about short people.
posted by cortex at 6:52 AM on February 5, 2007


Also, I just realized that I can remember how "I'm An Amendment To Be" goes, but not "I'm Just A Bill". Kind of a horrifying trick of humor revisionism, that.
posted by cortex at 6:54 AM on February 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's OK.

It wasn't as good as Street Life or Someday I'll Fly Away though.

Perhaps he could get the folks at Jib-Jab to make a cartoon for him? Viral marketing for the over-fifties?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:12 AM on February 5, 2007


Kind-of-funny, but what exactly is his point? How profoundly sad it is that he has to drag out evil Roman, medieval or WW2 leaders to 'defend' the Bush administation?

No idea how the bit about the Supreme Court Italians and the brother defends the USA. Anyone?

And then he finishes of by declaring the US empire dead, which is an odd defense. Maybe a justification?

Odd song, but I have always liked his work and sound.
posted by beno at 7:31 AM on February 5, 2007


beno:

"Defense" is sarcastic. Newman is ruminating on the possible upcoming demise of an empire - ours.

See "Mark Twain Syndrome" above.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:40 AM on February 5, 2007


If the "Mark Twain Syndrome" is unclear it's this: Mark Twain's books are often targeted in schools by parents who call Twain a racist because he uses the "n" word. Twain, who was (unpopularly) against slavery, for women's suffrage, against stupidity - in short, anything but a racist. He was throwing the word back at people to show how ugly the whole concept was.

In other words: author smart, readers stupid.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:52 AM on February 5, 2007


Yes, I get that it's sarcastic, but it is so inconsistently used. I mean, the evil leaders bit i can appreciate, the Supreme Court bit I just don't understand, and the demise bit is probably completely true and realistic.
posted by beno at 7:52 AM on February 5, 2007


It's not really a defense comparing yourself to Hitler and coming out the better, and Newman knows it. This is not a logical thesis by Newman, it's a bit of cautionary rhetoric -- our empire is in decline, but look, at least we haven't made a horse into our vice president like the Romans did. Newman often writes from an absurd point of view.

It's not his best song, but, nonethless, god damn is it a sad song.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:56 AM on February 5, 2007


the Supreme Court bit I just don't understand

I can only speak for my little space on the left, but I think a lot of thinking people are disillusioned by people like Clarence Thomas, who by all rights should have a unique and compassionate view of what it takes to get by. He was the recipient of not a few "Great Society" benefits, and now spends his time trying to dismantle programs and denying others the same things he benefitted from. Instead of being an arbiter of basic fairness, many see him as serving an agenda.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:07 AM on February 5, 2007


There is however this to be noted. In the good old daysk, we had people that were "colored." Then they became "blacks." Nexst, Afro-Americans. Now, we learn from this song we can refer to them as simply "brothers" (and I guess "sisteres" ) as though they are actually our brothers. Clarence Thomas as my brother? oh,my (meh)
posted by Postroad at 8:09 AM on February 5, 2007


Randy Newman sings about Godwin's Law.

Great Nations of Europe covered the same ground far better.
posted by dw at 8:14 AM on February 5, 2007


I am just astounded that this guy does more than sing sentimental crap for 60 year old men in $200 Hawaiian shirts. Shows you what I know.

It's not the protest song I wanted to hear but I guess if you're Randy Newman you can sing about whatever the hell you want. It's still 10 times better than anything any other aging white guy song writer has pulled together in years.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:36 AM on February 5, 2007


Yes, but does Randy Newman still love LA?
posted by blucevalo at 8:50 AM on February 5, 2007


at least we haven't made a horse into our vice president like the Romans did.

No we made an ass president instead. How is that better?
posted by doctor_negative at 8:51 AM on February 5, 2007


I've never been able to get past Randy Newman's horrible '70s sound. His lyrics might be clever, but his songs are like jingles for overplayed TV commercials.

Just my negative 2 cents.
posted by TBoneMcCool at 8:51 AM on February 5, 2007


Just read the idiotic comments on the YouTube link, and you'll see what I mean.

A slight derail, but reading the comments to almost anything that's uploaded on YouTube is prone to give you terrible indigestion, if not worse.
posted by blucevalo at 8:52 AM on February 5, 2007


If you like this song, listen also to "Rednecks," "Sail Away," and "Political Science." These songs, for context, are from the early 1970s. If you can find the studio versions, they are even better, with their Stephen Foster-Americana instrumentation.

Please also be advised that the characters in these songs are not held out for admiration.
posted by ibmcginty at 8:56 AM on February 5, 2007


I love Randy Newman's stuff. So often it pisses people off, while sounding so tame. It's fun!
posted by edgeways at 9:05 AM on February 5, 2007


Hmm, I just don't get it.

It's not funny. It's not a protest song. Is it social commentary? I suppose.

Mostly it's just boring, and the thinking behind it is sophomoric and scattered. It's not really singing, so much as quasi-sung poetry, but while it's not quite song, it's not good poetry, either. I don't hear much of anything witty or new or even interesting in the lyrics. The music is as sleep-inducing as Ambien.

So, I just don't get it.

What do folks like about it?
posted by teece at 9:06 AM on February 5, 2007


And the chronic over-rating of Randy Newman and his alleged lyrical genius continues unabated.

More power to him, but really now. I've been hearing for over 20 years now about how brilliant this guy is supposed to be and, more recently, about how unrepresentative his Disney works are of that specific genius.

Well, countless records and even a box set later I have yet to see what you guys do. I suspect Elvis Costello trashes better lyrics off his hard drive daily than the kind of obvious, faux-"folksy" sermonizing I have heard from Newman time and again.

I suspect that the attraction is less to do with the quality of his ideas, and more to do with the rarified fetishism of hobby intellectuals that get tickled pink to hear modern, yet "old timey" sounding music. Nothing wrong with that, but it doesnt make the songs better than they are.

Again, more power to him, and you if youre a fan, knock yerself out and dig what ya dig. Just dont try to tell me he's some kind of modern Bard spouting of some brilliantly snappy point-of-view.

And as a side note, that Disney stuff he craps out is reason enough alone for him to have fucked off already.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:07 AM on February 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Seeing that Elvis Costello claims Randy Newman as an early influence, maybe it is that you just don't get it, not that Newman is overrated.

And that's fine. Each to their own taste. You don't have to like him, but to suggest that those of us who do are delusional is .. well, pretty much like every other thread on music that's popped up. Your Favorite Sardonic Fuddy Duddy Ragtime Piano Tinkling Singer Songwriter Sucks.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:13 AM on February 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


Could be, or it could be that his "satire" really has no fang to begin with.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:15 AM on February 5, 2007


"the rarified fetishism of hobby intellectuals".

Wow, how did you manage to peer into my soul like that, Sr. Cardgage.

Elvis Costello would disagree with your assessment; he has covered Randy Newman, and, FWIW, Attractions drummer Pete Thomas has played with Randy Newman.

You have a right not to like anyone. I still don't like Bob Dylan, but I admit that it's personal preference, not because he sucks, or because those who claim to like him are actually suffering from the rarified false consciousness of high-heeled boys or whatever. Grow up.
posted by ibmcginty at 9:19 AM on February 5, 2007


Well, let's agree to disagree.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:19 AM on February 5, 2007


Um, on non-preview, Astro Zombie is smart.
posted by ibmcginty at 9:19 AM on February 5, 2007


Addressed to Senor Cardgage.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:19 AM on February 5, 2007


MetaFilter: It's like the nihilism of stoner cool without being stoned or cool.
posted by jimmythefish at 9:20 AM on February 5, 2007


If you like this song, listen also to "Rednecks," "Sail Away," and "Political Science." These songs, for context, are from the early 1970s... Please also be advised that the characters in these songs are not held out for admiration.

Nor should "Mamma Told Me Not To Come" be misconstrued as a theme song for abstinence.
posted by hal9k at 9:22 AM on February 5, 2007


Im alright with agreeing to disagree.

But to be fair, I havent become evangelical about proving/disproving the man's genius. This is more of a reponse to years of that kind of constant proselytizing.

If you want me back on topic directly, I think we can all agree that this particular song (however you might feel about Newman) is pretty benign.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:23 AM on February 5, 2007


MetaFilter: It's like the nihilism of stoner cool without being stoned or cool.

Not true- I'm both cool and stoned. And if I could just remember where I put the Cheetos I could fashion much pithier comments.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:24 AM on February 5, 2007


? I suspect that the attraction is less to do with the quality of his ideas, and more to do with the rarefied fetishism of hobby intellectuals...

I'm perfectly fine with people not liking Newman, but, that particular phrase perfectly encapsulates itself.
posted by edgeways at 9:35 AM on February 5, 2007


If one prefers protest music a little less wry and piano-noodly and a little more head-kicking, may I recommend Ministry's Houses of the Mole (lyrics)?
posted by boo_radley at 9:45 AM on February 5, 2007


ooh, there was supposed to be a link to Rio Grande Blood too, as well.
posted by boo_radley at 9:49 AM on February 5, 2007


Great. Thanks.
posted by koeselitz at 9:55 AM on February 5, 2007


And let me remind people that Randy Newman cowrote Three Amigos.

I'm not sure whether I just said that in his defense or not.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:19 AM on February 5, 2007


Senor Cardgage: "I suspect Elvis Costello trashes better lyrics off his hard drive daily than the kind of obvious, faux-"folksy" sermonizing I have heard from Newman time and again."

Pity he didn't trash all of it and just go back to covering Sam and Dave so that the rest of us could be spared the whiny, self-important, keeningly 'witty' puns he seems to think function adequately as lyrics. Quoth Mark E. Smith-- now there's a lyricist-- "Elvis Costello: boring writer, boring man."

Randy Newman? I like him. He's in what I call the "Tom Waits Sector:" I have one record of his, and it's all I really need when I'm in the mood for his music. But at least Randy Newman isn't a pretentious sot like Elvis Costello.
posted by koeselitz at 10:25 AM on February 5, 2007


Randy Newman? I like him. He's in what I call the "Tom Waits Sector:" I have one record of his, and it's all I really need when I'm in the mood for his music. But at least Randy Newman isn't a pretentious sot like Elvis Costello.

Nice try, but I'm neither a Costello fanboy nor apologist so your bait might have to lay there a little while longer until someone else takes it. Although I do like quite a bit of his work, I can fully understand how someone wouldnt like him for the same reasons you dont.

Still, every single criticism you just made about Costello could be accurate and it still wouldn't make Randy Newman a great songwriter.

The "at least he isnt X" argument is weak.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:43 AM on February 5, 2007


Randy Newman? I like him. He's in what I call the "Tom Waits Sector:" I have one record of his, and it's all I really need when I'm in the mood for his music. But at least Randy Newman isn't a pretentious sot like Elvis Costello.

Nice try, but I'm neither a Costello fanboy nor apologist so your bait might have to lay there a little while longer until someone else takes it. Although I do like quite a bit of his work, I can fully understand how someone wouldnt like him for the same reasons you dont.

Still, every single criticism you just made about Costello could be accurate and it still wouldn't make Randy Newman a great songwriter.

The "at least he isnt X" argument is weak.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:43 AM on February 5, 2007


Randy Newman? I like him. He's in what I call the "Tom Waits Sector:" I have one record of his, and it's all I really need when I'm in the mood for his music. But at least Randy Newman isn't a pretentious sot like Elvis Costello.

Nice try, but I'm neither a Costello fanboy nor apologist so your bait might have to lay there a little while longer until someone else takes it. Although I do like quite a bit of his work, I can fully understand how someone wouldnt like him for the same reasons you dont.

Still, every single criticism you just made about Costello could be accurate and it still wouldn't make Randy Newman a great songwriter.

The "at least he isnt X" argument is weak.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:43 AM on February 5, 2007


What the hell just happened?
Sorry guys, I think that was due to the WiFi hiccup we just had.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:44 AM on February 5, 2007


I think you stutter.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:57 AM on February 5, 2007


"A good workman never blames his tools"
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:58 AM on February 5, 2007


I'll take the bait.

I'll willingly grant the "pretentious sot" label for Costello's output since, say, 1982.

But his first three albums or so were pure, vicious genius.
posted by blucevalo at 10:59 AM on February 5, 2007


And as a side note, that Disney stuff he craps out is reason enough alone for him to have fucked off already.

i like his disney stuff ... so there
posted by pyramid termite at 11:02 AM on February 5, 2007


Senor Cardgage: "The "at least he isnt X" argument is weak."

True. I guess the gist behind what I was saying was that, while Mr. Newman might not be the acme of lyrical greatness, he never pretended to be. And if you're tired of hearing how great he is, maybe you should stop listening to whomever it is you're listening to. It's nice that he's just him, and doesn't aspire to much more than what he does; it's not a reason for him to "fuck off," as you put it.
posted by koeselitz at 11:09 AM on February 5, 2007


From his "Let's Drop The Big One" (warning, links to bright yellow page of lyrics):


Asia's crowded, Europe's too old,
Africa is far too hot and Canada's too cold,
South America stole our name
Let's drop the big one, there'll be no one left to blame us...


Written back in the cold war era, it's simultaneously a commentary about the diversity of the world, how much American culture has adopted the goodies of other cultures, and how ridiculous our cold-war nuclear swagger had become. Protest songs are nothing new for Randy Neuman, and while I don't always enjoy his melodies or singing, I've been a huge fan of his lyrics since I was a kid.
posted by davejay at 11:12 AM on February 5, 2007


MetaFilter: Whiny, self-important, keeningly 'witty' puns.
posted by Mister_A at 11:14 AM on February 5, 2007


Randy Newman: Creators at Carnegie is a great live retrospective of his works that turned me into a fan.
posted by Manjusri at 11:19 AM on February 5, 2007


davejay, that's Political Science, first linked to at 6:58, mentioned at least a couple of other times, and quoted at 8:55. Good song, but not the only song, if you know what I mean.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:21 AM on February 5, 2007


Oh, and it's Randy Newman. You know - like the salad dressing?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:23 AM on February 5, 2007


In the interest of fairness, I am gonna take Majusri's link and go back down into the mines there and see if I can't get out of this what ya'll are.

I pledge to be open-minded, even though I was the previous 48 times I tried to get into this guy and it didnt seem to help then either.

Thanks for the link Manjusri, even if I dont end up liking it that looks like a great program.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 11:24 AM on February 5, 2007


This reminds me of a comment Jello Biafra once (allegedly) made to Tipper Gore:

"Mrs. Gore, if John Denver says you have your head up your ass, don't you think you just might have your head up your ass?"

Now, if Randy Neuman says you have your head up your ass...
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:30 AM on February 5, 2007


Nice work, Senor Cardgage, and seeing as how I told you to "grow up" earlier in the thread, I'd be pleased to give a listen to some person or thing that you'd like to link to.
posted by ibmcginty at 11:30 AM on February 5, 2007


Ooops, busted on spelling. Should have previewed.

Now if Gary Numan says you have your head up your ass...
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:31 AM on February 5, 2007


Now if Gary Numan says you have your head up your ass...


Maybe up like a robot ass.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 11:32 AM on February 5, 2007


And if John von Neumann say you have your LED up your ASCII, well, shit, buddy.
posted by cortex at 11:47 AM on February 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, let's agree to disagree.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:19 AM CST


I don't agree to that!

I'm surprised he does protest songs, honestly. My only exposure to his music has been through Disney movies, so I guess that is to be expected. I instantly recognized the Family Guy quote, however. Not sure if that's good or bad.
posted by Talanvor at 12:14 PM on February 5, 2007


meh, is this what passes for protest music these days?

Actually, there's plenty of protest music going on. Maybe you just aren't looking?
(youtube links)
posted by yeloson at 12:20 PM on February 5, 2007


...a sad song...swan song...it had a dying fall.
posted by taosbat at 12:33 PM on February 5, 2007


As no one else has mentioned it, I really like his song that is aptly used as the theme song for the show Monk. Political Science has to be his all-time best. Lots of people really liked Desperado.
posted by wpbinder at 12:51 PM on February 5, 2007


Lots of people really liked Desperado.

Why don't they come to their senses?
posted by cortex at 12:56 PM on February 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I can only comment to this:

but the Clarence Thomas thing seems kinda unncecessary.

Clarence Thomas' often poorly thought out "Objectivist" opinions (when issues one at ALL) will affect all of much more and for far longer than a thousand Osama Bin Ladens or a million Randy Neumans.

I don't think Neuman had time to figure out rhymes for U.S. v. Dickerson or Saenz v. Roe anyway.
posted by tkchrist at 1:21 PM on February 5, 2007


I both love and hate how Newman sings about what he sees.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:11 PM on February 5, 2007


I like the guy, but didn't get into the song. Kind of understand how it feels to be hated for something you had no control over, though.

I, too, am really sick of seeing the word "meh". It's a funny way of saying nothing, and doing it crassly.

That and "pwned".
posted by rougy at 2:28 PM on February 5, 2007


FEBRUARY 5TH, 2007: ROUGY PWNS "MEH"
posted by cortex at 2:36 PM on February 5, 2007


"Yep, he just sits there all night and day, signin' about what he sees."

That was my first thought too.

Family Guy ruined Randy Newman for me.

But I still kinda like him.

Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot...
posted by sparkletone at 3:38 PM on February 5, 2007


I'm in the "Generally Pro-Randy Newman" camp myself, but the rambling narrative lyrics just seem lazy from a songwriter who has fit similar sentiments into well-rhymed couplets in the past. I think he first discovered he could 'phone it in" when he did "I Love L.A." with the shouted-out names of Southern California's less-legendary streets (Victory Boulevand! We love it!)

And as much as I enjoy the music of Declan McManus, I have never warmed to his way-too-cute/ironic stage name.
posted by wendell at 3:41 PM on February 5, 2007


Metafilter: prone to give you terrible indigestion, if not worse.
posted by spock at 3:49 PM on February 5, 2007


Lots of people really liked Desperado.

Are we talking about the Eagles now? I guess I must have dozed off.
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:42 PM on February 5, 2007


I'm amazed that no one has brought up the song that Newman wrote about the first Gulf War:

Lines in the Sand

Oh, sons and daughters
Sail 'cross the sea
Fight now for justice
And liberty
Fly 'cross the ocean
A friend needs a hand
You must try to defend their
Lines in the sand.

Deep in the desert
Evening draws nigh
Brave sons and daughters
Look to the sky
The blood of these children
A stain on the land
If they die to defend some
Lines in the sand.

We old men will guide you
Though we won't be there beside you
We wish you well
We wish you well.

Oh sons and daughters
Listen to me
March on to Glory
And Victory
The whole world will watch
As you make your brave stand
As you try to defend the
Lines in the sand.
posted by octothorpe at 6:00 PM on February 5, 2007


...our empire is in decline, but look, at least we haven't made a horse into our vice president like the Romans did.

True enough, Cheney is not a horse.

That's probably about the best thing one can say about him.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:15 PM on February 5, 2007


I am a big EC fan and have come across several people who thought he was arrogant, and I've never understood that, too bad. I talked to a couple people who met him and said he was the nicest guy--but then I suppose you all mean it in another manner.

I am more surprised by those of you who didn't know of Randy as a satirist. Here're the lyrics to "Burn On," a song about the Cuyahoga River he once described as a fire trap:

...Cleveland, city of light, city of magic
Cleveland, city of light, you're calling me
Cleveland, even now I can remember
'Cause the Cuyahoga River
Goes smokin' through my dreams

Burn on, big river, burn on
Burn on, big river, burn on
Now the Lord can make you tumble
And the Lord can make you turn
And the Lord can make you overflow
But the Lord can't make you burn...

posted by toma at 6:26 PM on February 5, 2007


Things I like about this song...I can hear the lyrics clearly, :) and, imo, the words are memorable, astute and insightful. He's responding to America bashing by Europeans and he puts their scorn re the USA and the Bush regime in historic perspective. Americans still like the people of Germany, Belgium, Spain or Russia, in spite of their former political leaders, Stalin. King Leopold and Hitler or the Spanish Inquisition.

It seems to be a call to not point fingers but to put what's going on with the present corrupt American regime in an historic light.

I like the literate references to history and current government officials, alikening the present political mess in the USA to a Spanish Armada lost and adrift or to the decadence of the end of the Roman Empire, to the inevitable end of empires.

I like that he refers to his own mortality feeling resigned and angry that he'll be outlived by the present crummy roster of this Supreme Court. He certainly doesn't like the tight-assed, conservative Samuel Alito, nominated by GW, nor Antonin Gregory Scalia nor Thomas Clarence, who was accused of sexually harassing Anita Hill and is often compared with conservative Scalia.

I like how he refers to the people of the USA and Europe having been manipulated into a so-called War on Terror by quoting the gist of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's first inaugural speech, in which he said: "So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." And that was Roosevelt defending Europe in a time of trouble, not bashing it.

I like Newman's sandpaper voice, his singing cadence and his piano playing too.
posted by nickyskye at 6:41 PM on February 5, 2007


I met Elvis Costello once, in Chicago. He was very nice.
posted by ibmcginty at 8:15 PM on February 5, 2007


Nice effort, but after exposing myself to his vanilla pudding voice, I need something to staunch the blood coming from my ears.
posted by moonbird at 8:16 PM on February 5, 2007


Here're the lyrics to "Burn On," a song about the Cuyahoga River he once described as a fire trap:

The Cuyahoga actually caught fire (several times). He was "memorializing" the event.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:25 PM on February 5, 2007


I heard Newman perform this in concert last August. I thought it was great. Hopefully it will appear on a new album later this year.
posted by pmurray63 at 8:25 PM on February 5, 2007


Elvis Costello signed the back of my ATM card. Not kidding. It's framed above my piano because he totally rules.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:27 PM on February 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Are we talking about the Eagles now? I guess I must have dozed off.

The Eagles do the background vocals on Newman's Rider in the rain. I am not aware of any other connections between them but who knows.
posted by beno at 1:11 AM on February 6, 2007


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