Sunday, January 20, 2008

Podunkian Music Club January 19, 2008

Randy Newman--A Few Words in Defense of Our Country

The review of world history through the ages from Randy Newman closed out 2007 as Rolling Stone Magazine's number two song of the year. A fairly impressive achievement, considering he's neither hip hop, nor rock nor crisis fueled young lady, no his recognition came for what in effect was a talking book piece put to piano accompaniment.

Newman composed his defense after touring Europe and gauging the scorn and distrust that his country was being received with as the world's events rolled along their course.

It's delivered in his traditional storyteller style, a bit of wit, a bit of wisdom and a healthy sense of delivering the message with a humorous touch, despite the nature of the message.

As Rolling Stone puts it, for America things won't be remembered quite as badly as they were for the Ancient Romans, Hitler or Stalin, but you have to wonder if even being mentioned in the same song as that august crew is where you want to be positioned.

Most of Newman's work over the years has produced soundtracks to many of the most popular motion pictures, whether they be the cartoon epics like Monsters or Cars or from such past efforts as The Natural. Ragtime or Meet the Fockers. His performance of Louisiana during the relief benefit of a couple of years ago, was one of the more moving of appearances in support of flood ravaged New Orleans, which still to this day struggles to recover from natures wrath and governments indifference.

Newman reviews the details of our days and comes to the conclusion that the era of the American empire may soon be at an end, probably a view that didn't sit too well over at the White House or Fox for that matte, which of course subscribe to their own soundtrack from home on the range, where seldom is hear a discouraging word...

The lyrics also doubled as an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times and made for quite a sensational treatise upon their release.

Newman travels with some interesting company these days, he was invited to appear at the recent Macworld 2008 events, following up the keynote address by Steve Jobs with a brief musical interlude which included his song for America. (skim ahead on the Apple site video to an hour and sixteen minutes in towards the end of the presentation, or sit through the entire Apple presentation if you have some time to spare)

His observations of his country, while probably not welcomed by all, at least show that their is a sense that things went off the rails a bit in America, and in a fine American tradition it's the musicians and raconteurs who deliver the message of opposition and need for a change.

Artist--Randy Newman
Recording--Single released on iTunes

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