Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Randy Newman, Good Old Boys

(Randy Newman’s fifth Album, released September 1974 on Reprise Records)
For the last time, Randy Newman is not the guy who gone and dun that song in Toy Story. Neglect your fucking Flume album and colour your bland life. Randy Newman is a genius. A satirical and witty genius. Just listen to the first 30 seconds of Rollin’ and try to remain on planet earth. (Live BBC version featured below. skip to 1.03 to experience the instant love)
They say it is difficult to forget your first love. My first love was Randy Newman, Good Old Boys. At any rate, it was my first album. It was the first time I listened to something and felt part of a larger story; suctioned into someone else’s journey. Escapism. Good Old Boys is the album that stopped me merely listening to music. Good Old Boys taught me to feel.
Most will argue that Newman’s 1972 release, Sail Away (particularly side A) was the pinnacle of the Newman’s sound. I won’t argue with them. Lyrically, vocally…. Fuck it. In everyway that record is absolute perfection. Brian Wilson claimed that Sail Away had such a profound affect on him it briefly hauled him out of debilitating depression and mental illness.
Good Old Boys is my anti-depressant. There is an outerworldly greatness which appealed to me from a young age. The older I am, the more dark and alluring the record becomes; the more I like it (though it contains nothing as utterly grim as God's Song on Sail Away; which a deity presses the faces of his children in humiliating shit). Let us pause for a moment to appreciate the sheer brilliance.


image source: randynewman.com
Good Old Boys can almost stand as a historical record. The lead off track on God Old Boys, Rednecks is topical and brilliant.  Newman labeled Rednecks one of his favourite compositions.
"He said he wrote the song after watching Maddox's appearance with Cavett and "seeing him be treated rudely... they had just elected him governor, in a state of 6 million or whatever, and if I were a Georgian, I would have been offended, irrespective of the fact that he was a bigot and a fool" (The Rolling Stone)
Underlying sentiments in Rednecks quite obviously pulse through Marie and Birmingham. The album also contains the gem that is Louisiana 1927 which tells the story of the great Mississippi flood. The week the record was released there was a brutal racial incident in Boston over school desegregation. Like all effective satire the lyrics are rooted in bare hostility and aggression, but the sprightly reeds and horn fills give this angry screed a sardonic ragtime air; utter brilliance, utter love.
Good Old Boys taught me the power of satire, that  perfection which can be found in imperfection and that music is a journey.