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Randy Newman – Good Old Boys (1974)

November 21, 2016


Unbelievable USA logo by Sarca @ caughtmegaming

USA Artists (so far): Aimee Mann, Marty Robbins, D’Angelo, The Modern Lovers, Bruce Springsteen, Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott, Steely Dan, Grant Lee Buffalo, 2Pac, Harry Nilsson, Linkin Park, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Randy Newman


[Album 493/1001]

“If there’s music out there staying awake
To cry and drain every eye until hatred’s eliminated
And music that can help you feel great
And come together in the fictive dream with a kind of Randy Newman take.”
– The Tragically Hip, Use it Up

In recent decades, Randy Newman has had a knack for writing music that can help me feel great.

My girls went through a Princess & The Frog phase this summer, I quite enjoyed hearing those trademark Randy Newman chord progressions in the background while making dinner. And I was pleased when I’d attempt the character voices and my 2-year old would exclaim, “you sound like the Shadowman!”

Music, with a kind of Randy Newman take, that can help you feel great indeed.

But until this week, I hadn’t figured out how to process Good Old Boys.

The music would still be right at home on a Disney/Pixar soundtrack, his voice is as instantly identifiable as ever.

The lyrics, however, especially on the opening track, Rednecks, are miles from You’ve Got A Friend in Me.

But then I saw this Jon Stewart interview and I finally understood what Randy was arguing (at 3:45):



The Good Old Boys parallels to 2016 started to become clear to me.

In Rednecks, Newman argues that while the South had a long history of Slavery, Northerners are wrong to stereotype Southerners as an entirely ignorant group of bigots, while ignoring prejudices and problems in their own back yard.randy_newman_-_good_old_boys

Fast forward to 2016, Stewart argues that while racists voted for Trump, to call all Trump voters racist would be wrong. Worse, it would be hypocritical, akin to making ignorant blanket statements like the ones the Trump campaign would make about Muslims, Mexicans, etc.

Issues are much more complex than that; Newman’s songs on Good Old Boys are much more complex than they appear on the surface.

Whether this album is full of “music that can make you feel great,” I’m not sure.

But returning to the opening hip quote, it’s a different “kind of Randy Newman take” for me. One that leaves more questions than answers. One that’s not necessarily telling me what I want to hear, one that’s not confirming my biases.

So maybe it’s just the right record for November 2016: if empathy is going to be critical moving forward, considering the vast amounts of hatred yet to be eliminated, I should be mindful of my own hypocrisies.

Or to revise the Bo Diddley tune, Before I accuse You, Take a Look at Myself.


Verbalize the Positive

I appreciate how my friend Aaron @ Keepsmealive had The Tragically Hip song quoted above as the banner on his site earlier this year, a good old track if there ever was one. He’s also beyond generous & does so much to build the blogging community. Or to quote him, COMMUNITY!

From → 1970s

  1. I hope Donald Trump will remeber. A southern man don’t need him around anyhow.

    • Interestingly enough, there’s a tune named Birmingham on this one – no word on whether the residents love the govenor though, ooo ooo ooo!

  2. Music and politics. Interesting when you listen to an album and it suddenly falls into ‘the now’, huh? Cycles, Geoff… or seasons. We’re in a troubled season, but it’ll pass. Folks need to stick together, though.

    Anyhoo, I’m also quite fond of a spot of Randy Newman, but I’m not familiar with this one at all.

    • Well said J – like the George Harrison album, all things must pass!
      I remember there was a good line in The Dark Knight as well, the night is always darkest just before the dawn.
      So the eventual dawn is looking promising 🙂

      • Or looking like Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome!!

  3. Any review about Randy Newman that quotes the Tragically Hip, includes Jon Stewart, and paraphrases Bo Diddley to make a point totally wins in my book!

  4. Love this album!! And a great review

    • Much appreciated!
      It’s a deceivingly complex album, I’ve played it a dozen times, and I feel like I’m still scratching the surface!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. The Monkees – Headquarters (1967) | 1001albumsin10years
  2. Liz Phair – Exile in Guyville (1993) | 1001albumsin10years
  3. The Byrds – Younger than Yesterday (1967) | 1001albumsin10years
  4. Anita Baker – Rapture (1986) | 1001albumsin10years
  5. Circle Jerks – Group Sex (1980) | 1001albumsin10years
  6. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1976) | 1001albumsin10years
  7. Wilco – Being There (1996) | 1001albumsin10years
  8. Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet (1986) | 1001albumsin10years
  9. 1974 | 1001albumsin10years

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