Randy Newman

Randy Newman

Infobox musical artist

Name = Randy Newman
Img_capt = Randy Newman at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 2008
Img_size =
Landscape =
Background = solo_singer
Birth_name = Randall Stuart Newman
Alias =
Born = birth date and age|1943|11|28
Died =
Origin = Los Angeles, California
Instrument = Vocals, piano
Genre = Rock, pop, film scores
Occupation = singer-songwriter, arranger, musician
Years_active = 1961 – present
Label =
Associated_acts =
URL = [http://randynewman.com/ RandyNewman.com]
Notable_instruments =

Randall Stuart “Randy” Newman (born November 28, 1943) is an Academy Award–winning American singer/songwriter, arranger, composer, singer and pianist who is notable for his (and often satirical) pop songs and for his many film scores.

Newman is noted for his practice of writing lyrics from the perspective of a “character” far removed from Newman’s own biography, often using the literary device of an unreliable narrator. For example, the 1972 song "Sail Away" is written as a slave trader’s sales pitch to attract slaves, while the narrator of "Political Science" is a U.S. nationalist who complains of worldwide ingratitude toward America and proposes a brutally ironic final solution (“Let’s drop the big one”).

Since the 1980s, Newman has worked mostly as a film composer. His film scores include "Ragtime", "The Natural", "Toy Story", "Meet the Parents" and "Seabiscuit". He also scored four other Pixar films: "A Bug's Life", "Toy Story 2", "Monsters, Inc.", and "Cars".

He has also been singled out for a number of awards by his colleagues, including an Academy Award, two Emmy Awards, four Grammy Awards, and the Governor's Award from the Recording Academy. [See his career chronology at [http://www.randynewman.com/tocchronology randynewman.com] ] Randy Newman was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002.

Early life

Newman was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Adele ("née" Fox), a secretary, and Irving George Newman, an internist. [ [http://www.filmreference.com/film/46/Randy-Newman.html Randy Newman Biography (1943?-) ] ] As an infant, Newman moved with his Jewish family to New Orleans, Louisiana, where his mother's family lived. He lived in New Orleans as a small child and spent summers there until he was eleven years old, his family having by then returned to Los Angeles. The paternal side of his family includes three uncles who were noted Hollywood film-score composers: Alfred Newman, Lionel Newman and Emil Newman. Newman's cousins Thomas and David, and nephew Joey are also composers for motion pictures. He graduated from University High, Los Angeles. Newman attended the University of California, Los Angeles.


Newman became a professional songwriter by the time he was seventeen. His first single as a performer was 1961's "Golden Gridiron Boy", released when he was eighteen. However, the single flopped and Newman chose to concentrate on songwriting and arranging for the next several years. His early songs were recorded by Gene Pitney, Jerry Butler, The O'Jays and Irma Thomas, among others. His work as a songwriter met with particular success in the UK: top 40 UK hits written by Newman included Cilla Black's "I've Been Wrong Before" (#17, 1965), Gene Pitney's "Nobody Needs Your Love" (#2, 1966) and "Just One Smile" (#8, 1966); and The Alan Price Set's "Simon Smith and His Amazing Dancing Bear" (#4, 1967). Besides "Simon Smith", Price featured seven Randy Newman songs on his 1967 "A Price On His Head" album.

In the mid-1960s, Newman was briefly a member of the band The Tikis, who later became Harpers Bizarre, best known for their 1967 hit version of the Paul Simon composition "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)." Newman kept a close musical relationship with Harpers Bizarre, offering them some of his own compositions, including "Simon Smith" and "Happyland". The band would end up recording six Newman compositions during their short initial career (1967-1969).

Recording artist

His 1968 debut album, "Randy Newman", was a critical success but never dented the "Billboard" Top 200. Its ambitious arrangements didn't necessarily match with Newman's embryonic vocal style, but his strengths as a songwriter were already evident. The acidic but painfully sad "Davy The Fat Boy" and the moving "Cowboy" (written for but rejected from the film "Midnight Cowboy") were standouts. Many artists, including Alan Price, Judy Collins, the Everly Brothers, Claudine Longet, Dusty Springfield, Nina Simone, Pat Boone and Peggy Lee, covered his songs and 'I Think It's Going To Rain Today' became an early standard.

In 1970, Harry Nilsson recorded an entire album of Newman compositions called "Nilsson Sings Newman." That album was a success, and it paved the way for Newman's 1970 release, "12 Songs", which abandoned the elaborate arrangements of his first album for a more stripped-down sound that showcased Newman's piano. Ry Cooder's slide guitar and contributions from Byrds members Gene Parsons and Clarence White helped to give the album a much rootsier feel. "12 Songs" was also critically acclaimed (6th best album of the seventies according to Rolling Stone critic Robert Christgau), but again found little commercial success, though Three Dog Night made a huge hit of his "Mama Told Me Not to Come". The following year, "Randy Newman Live" cemented his cult following and became his first LP to appear in the "Billboard" charts, at #191.

1972's "Sail Away" reached #163 on "Billboard", with the title track making its way into the repertoire of Ray Charles and Linda Ronstadt. "You Can Leave Your Hat On" enigmatically touches on what it is men find important in relationships, and was covered by Joe Cocker, and later by Keb Mo, Tom Jones, Three Dog Night and Etta James. The album also featured "Burn On", an ode to that infamous day in Cleveland when the heavily polluted Cuyahoga River literally caught fire. In 1989, "Burn On" was used as the opening theme to the film "Major League", whose focus was the hapless Cleveland Indians.

His 1974 release "Good Old Boys" was a set of songs about the American South; "Rednecks" began with a description of segregationist Lester Maddox pitted against a "smart-ass New York Jew" on a TV show, in a song that seems to criticize both southern racism and the complacent bigotry of American northeasterners who stereotype all southerners as racist. This ambiguity was also apparent on "Kingfish" and "Every Man a King", the former a paean to Huey Long (the assassinated former Governor of, and United States Senator for, the State of Louisiana), the other a campaign song written by Long himself. An album that received lavish critical praise, "Good Old Boys" also became a commercial breakthrough for Newman, peaking at #36 on Billboard and spending 21 weeks in the Top 200.

"Little Criminals" (1977) contained the surprise hit "Short People", which also became a subject of controversy, as Newman's ironic depiction of bigotry aimed at the short was taken literally by some listeners. Both the album and the single stand as the best-selling of his career. In 1978, legislation was introduced to make playing the song on the radio illegal in Maryland, though the bill failed to pass. Newman often pokes fun at the misinterpretation of his song during concerts, sarcastically announcing, "I hate short people, it's true. The reason I don't say anything is because the record label's afraid I'll tell people what I really think."

1979's "Born Again" was a commentary on the money-worship of the coming era of Reaganomics, which also featured a song satirically mythologizing the Electric Light Orchestra (and their arranging style) entitled "The Story of a Rock and Roll Band". The album failed to capitalize on the commercial success of "Short People" but did include other noteworthy material, such as "Ghosts", a sorrowful 'apology' from a lonely old man and "Girls In My Life Part One", a dubious catalogue of amorous boasts from a naive young man.

His 1983 album "Trouble in Paradise" included the hit single "I Love L.A.", a song that has been interpreted as both praising and critiquing its subject, in this case, Los Angeles. This ambivalence is borne out by Newman's own comments on the song. As he explained in a 2001 interview, "There's some kind of ignorance L.A. has that I'm proud of. The open car and the redhead, the Beach Boys... that sounds 'really' good to me." The ABC network and Frank Gari Productions transformed "I Love L.A." into an extremely popular '80s TV promotional campaign, retooling the lyrics and title to "You'll Love It! (on ABC)". The album featured some of his strongest material - "Real Emotional Girl" was a disturbingly frank portrait of a relationship, sung from the male point of view while "Same Girl" told of the love affair between two junkies, and its inevitable and desperate final days.

In the years following "Trouble in Paradise", Randy focused more on film work, but his personal life entered a difficult period. He split from his wife of nearly twenty years, Roswitha, and was diagnosed with the physically debilitating Epstein-Barr virus. He has released three albums of new material as a singer-songwriter since that time: "Land of Dreams" (1988), "Bad Love" (1999), and "Harps and Angels", which was released on August 5, 2008. "Land of Dreams" included one of his most well known songs, "It's Money that Matters", and featured Newman's first stab at autobiography with "Dixie Flyer" and "Four Eyes", while "Bad Love" included "I Miss You", a moving tribute to his ex-wife. He has also re-recorded a number of his earlier songs, accompanying himself on piano, as "The Randy Newman Songbook Vol. 1" (2003), and continues to perform his songs before live audiences as a touring concert artist.

In the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe of 2005, Newman's "Louisiana 1927", became an anthem, played heavily on a wide range of American radio and television stations, in both Newman's 1974 original, as well as Aaron Neville's cover version of the song. The song addresses the deceitful manner in which New Orleans's municipal government managed a flood in 1927, during which, as Newman asserts, "the guys who ran the Mardi Gras, the bosses in New Orleans decided the course of that flood. You know, they cut a hole in the levee and it flooded the cotton fields." [Newman discusses "Louisiana 1927" in a Village Voice interview. [http://blogs.villagevoice.com/music/archives/2008/09/randy_newman.php] ]

During a European tour in the summer of 2006, Newman premiered three new songs: "Potholes in Memory Lane", "Losing You", and the politically controversial "A Few Words in Defense of Our Country". The latter was released as an mp3 single in February 2007. It compares the United States to previous empires, criticizes the War on Terror and the Supreme Court, and posits that "this empire is ending like all the rest." The song is available through his website [http://www.randynewman.com] .

Film composer

Newman's work as a film composer began in 1971, with his work on the Norman Lear satire "Cold Turkey". He returned to film work with 1981's "Ragtime", for which he was nominated for two Academy Awards. Newman co-wrote the 1986 film "¡Three Amigos!" with Steve Martin and Lorne Michaels, wrote three songs for the film, and provided the voice for the singing bush.

Newman scored the first four Disney/Pixar feature films; "Toy Story", "A Bug's Life", "Toy Story 2", and "Monsters, Inc." He also scored the 1996 film "James and the Giant Peach" and the 2006 Disney/Pixar film "Cars". Additional scores by Newman include "Avalon", "Parenthood", "Seabiscuit", "Awakenings", "The Paper", "Overboard", "Meet the Parents", and its sequel, "Meet the Fockers". His score for "Pleasantville" was an Academy Award nominee. He also wrote the songs for Turner's "Cats Don't Dance".

One of Newman's most iconic and recognizable works is the central theme to "The Natural", a dramatic and Oscar-nominated score, which was described by at least one complimentary critic as "Coplandesque."

Newman had the dubious distinction of receiving the most Oscar nominations (fifteen) without a single win. His streak was broken when he received the Oscar for Best Song in 2001, for the "Monsters Inc." song "If I Didn't Have You", beating the likes of Enya and Paul McCartney. After receiving an enthusiastic standing ovation, a bemused but emotional Newman began [http://www.anecdotage.com/index.php?aid=16554 his acceptance speech] with "I don't want your pity!"

Besides writing songs for films, he also writes songs for television series such as the Emmy-Award winning current theme song of "Monk", "It's a Jungle out There".

In October 2006 it was revealed that Randy Newman will be writing the music to an upcoming Walt Disney movie called "The Princess and the Frog", which is scheduled for release in 2009. During the Walt Disney Company's annual shareholder meeting in March 2007, Randy Newman performed a new song written for the movie. He was accompanied by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

Musical theater

In the 1990s, Newman adapted Goethe's "Faust" into a concept album and musical, "Randy Newman's Faust". After a 1995 staging at the La Jolla Playhouse, he retained David Mamet to help rework the book before its relaunch on the Chicago Goodman Theatre mainstage in 1996. Newman's "Faust" project had been many years in the making, and it suffered for it; a central joke was Newman's depiction of Faust as a shallow heavy metal music fan in thrall to Satan, and this had to be modified to accommodate the less-than-devil obsessed age of grunge rock that was in fashion by 1995.

In 2000, South Coast Repertory (SCR) produced "The Education of Randy Newman", a musical theater piece which recreates the life of a songwriter who bears some resemblance to the actual Newman. Set in New Orleans and Los Angeles, it was modeled on the celebrated American autobiography, "The Education of Henry Adams". Newman, together with Jerry Patch and Michael Roth, surveyed Newman's songs to find those which, taken together, depict the life of an American artist in the last half of the 20th century. After its premiere at SCR, it was reworked with additional songs written specifically for the show by Newman and presented in Seattle by ACT.

Notable performances and appearances

* In 2000, Randy Newman hosted a PBS special on Sunset Blvd, in his native Los Angeles. Driving a convertible, he followed the road from the Amtrak train station downtown, through Silver Lake, on past his alma mater UCLA, and finished in Santa Monica.
* Randy Newman appeared on "The Colbert Report" on October 9, 2006, performing "Political Science" after his interview. At the end of the performance Stephen Colbert said "I hope they're listening in D.C." This appearance came days after North Korea conducted an underground test of a nuclear weapon.
* Randy Newman appeared on the season two finale of the sitcom "3rd Rock from the Sun", accompanying the character Harry Solomon's performance of "Life Has Been Good To Me" on piano in a dream sequence.
* Randy Newman appeared as a musical guest during the Keynote Address at MacWorld's 2008 San Francisco MacWorld Expo, performing the songs "A Few Words in Defense of Our Country" and "You've Got a Friend In Me".
* Randy Newman appeared as a musical guest on the second episode of NBC's "Saturday Night Live" in 1975.
* Had the lyrics to his song "A Few Words in Defense of Our Country" published in an op-ed piece in the NY Times on 1/24/2007.
* A spoof of him was used in the "Family Guy" episodes "Da Boom" and "", as a character that just sits there, singing about whatever he sees (which really annoys the Griffins). Upon being shown the clip during an interview, Newman immediately wrote a song using the same chords as the parody version of himself.


* "Randy Newman" (1968)
* "12 Songs" (1970)
* "Randy Newman Live" (1971)
* "Sail Away" (1972)
* "Good Old Boys" (1974)
* "Little Criminals" (1977)
* "Born Again" (1979)
* "Trouble in Paradise" (1983)
* "Land of Dreams" (1988)
*"Randy Newman's Faust" (1995)
* "Bad Love" (1999)
* "The Randy Newman Songbook Vol. 1" (2003) (New recordings of previously released songs)
* "Harps and Angels" (8/2008)

Awards and nominations

*Academy Award
**2007: Nominee - Original Song - "Our Town" - "Cars"
**2002: Winner - Original Song - "If I Didn't Have You" - "Monsters, Inc."
**2002: Nominee - Original Score - "Monsters, Inc."
**2001: Nominee - Original Song - "A Fool In Love" - "Meet The Parents"
**2000: Nominee - Original Song - "When She Loved Me" - "Toy Story 2"
**1999: Nominee - Original Dramatic Score - "Pleasantville"
**1999: Nominee - Original Musical or Comedy Score - "A Bug's Life"
**1999: Nominee - Original Song - "That'll Do" - ""
**1997: Nominee - Original Musical or Comedy Score - "James and the Giant Peach"
**1996: Nominee - Original Song - "You've Got a Friend in Me" - "Toy Story"
**1996: Nominee - Original Musical or Comedy Score - "Toy Story"
**1995: Nominee - Original Song - "Make Up Your Mind" - "The Paper"
**1991: Nominee - Original Score - "Avalon"
**1990: Nominee - Original Song - "I Love to See You Smile" - "Parenthood"
**1985: Nominee - Original Score - "The Natural"
**1982: Nominee - Original Score - "Ragtime"
**1982: Nominee - Original Song - "One More Hour" - "Ragtime"

*Golden Globe
**2000: Nominee - Original Song - "When She Loved Me" - "Toy Story 2"
**1999: Nominee - Original Score - "A Bug's Life"
**1996: Nominee - Original Song - "You've Got a Friend in Me" - "Toy Story"
**1991: Nominee - Original Score - "Avalon"
**1990: Nominee - Original Song - "I Love to See You Smile" - "Parenthood"
**1982: Nominee - Original Song - "One More Hour" - "Ragtime"

**2007: Winner - Song Written for Motion Picture or Television - "Our Town" - "Cars"
**2004: Nominee - Score Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture or Television - "Seabiscuit"
**2003: Winner - Song Written for Motion Picture or Television - "If I Didn't Have You" - "Monsters, Inc.'
**2003: Nominee - Score Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture or Television - "Monsters, Inc."
**2001: Winner - Song Written for Motion Picture or Television - "When She Loved Me" - "Toy Story 2'
**2001: Nominee - Score Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture or Television - "Toy Story 2"
**2000: Winner - Instrumental Composition Written for Motion Picture or Television - "A Bug's Life"
**2000: Nominee - Song Written for Motion Picture or Television - "The Time Of Your Life" - "A Bug's Life'
**1992: Nominee - Instrumental Composition Written for Motion Picture or Television - "Avalon"
**1992: Nominee - Instrumental Composition Written for Motion Picture or Television - "Awakenings"
**1990: Nominee - Song Written for Motion Picture or Television - "Parenthood"
**1983: Nominee - Score Album for Motion Picture or Television - "Ragtime"

**2004: Winner - Main Title Theme Music ("It's a Jungle Out There") - "Monk"
**1991: Winner - Achievement in Music and Lyrics - "Cop Rock"

*Annie Award
**2007: Winner - Music in an Animated Feature Production - "Cars"
**2003: Nominee - Music in an Animated Feature Production - "Monsters, Inc."
**2000: Winner - Music in an Animated Feature Production - "Toy Story 2"
**1997: Winner - Music in an Animated Feature Production - "Cats Don't Dance"
**1996: Winner - Music in an Animated Feature Production - "Toy Story"

*BAFTA Award
**1983: Nominee - Original Song - "One More Hour" - "Ragtime"

*Chicago Film Critics Association Award
**1999: Nominee - Original Score - "A Bug's Life"
**1996: Winner - Original Score - "Toy Story"

*Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award
**1981: Winner - Music - "Ragtime"

*Online Film Critics Society Award
**1999: Winner - Original Score - "Pleasantville"


External links

* [http://www.randynewman.com/ RandyNewman.com]
*"Randy Newman: American Dreams", Kevin Courrier (2005) ISBN 1-55022-690-8
* [http://www.artistshousemusic.org/videos/randy+newman+on+the+art+of+songwriting Interview with Randy Newman on the Art of Songwriting]
* [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=93183763 Randy Newman in NPR's All Songs Considered]
* Lyrics to A Few Words in Defense of Our Country found at [http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/24/opinion/24newman.html]

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