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Randy Newman – Sail Away (1972)

July 27, 2014

[Album 333/1001]Randy_Newman-Sail_Away_(album_cover)

When my darlin’ daughter hears Randy Newman’s voice, she thinks Toy Story.  My wonderful wife immediately jumps to Family Guy.  I now hear the CBC show This is That.

This is That is a radio program (with satire not unlike the Onion), delivering fake news that sounds like trustworthy real news…until you listen to what they’re actually saying.

For instance, a recent episode included a Regina City Councillor being interviewed about the dire need for more Expectant Father parking spaces.

Sounds ridiculous?  Yes, but they do such a good job of making it sound like a CBC show that people don’t realize it’s satire; irate listeners phone in, complaining about what they’ve just heard!

All while I listen smugly, confident in the knowledge I can spot satire a mile away.

Now thankfully I didn’t write any strongly-worded emails to Pixar but the satire of this album sailed a-way over my head on the first couple listens.

Why?  He has such a distinct voice and piano-driven sound that when listening, it’s unmistakably Randy Newman

And Mr. Newman was firmly entrenched in my mind as the guy who wrote countless life-affirming songs for cartoons, trustworthy without a trace of irony, the guy who sings about what he sees!

As a result, for the first spin or two through the record, I was blissfully unaware of the lyrics.

It was only on a repeated listen that I paid a bit more attention to the words & suddenly snapped out of my usual Randy Newman cartoon/observational lyrics happy trance.  At the conclusion of Political Science, I did a double take: what country did he just say should be bombed???

Turns out, despite quite enjoying the musicality on the first few times through Sail Away, I missed the whole layer of social commentary.  I seem to have become conditioned like Pavlov’s dog (minus most of the salivating): I hear Newman’s voice, I instantly smile & begin whistling You’ve Got a Friend in Me.  Regardless of what his voice is saying, it appears!

The good news is that I’m humbled, no longer overconfident in my satire spotting abilities.

My de-conditioning efforts are also underway.  It’s a journey but I’ll get there.

Hopefully I’ll be able to pay more attention to what Good Old Randy is saying by the time I get to his other 1001 record, Good Old Boys.


From → 1970s

  1. A true cynical genius!

  2. ianbalentine permalink

    Love this album, although it took me ages to appreciate it. I think you’ll enjoy Good Old Boys, although it’s not as instantly toe tapping as this one. Takes more effort, butis worth it.

    • Good to know – I enjoy those albums that grow over time though, Good Old Boys sounds like one I’ll enjoy

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