I think Randy Newman is a national treasure. If he was just a funny guy making music, I’d be OK with that, but his wit is sardonic, satirical and politically on point. Mixing politics and humor with music is usually about the punchline, and his punchlines even make the singer smile.
Randy Newman paints lasting portraits of places and people, all the while poking fun and highlighting injustice, stupidity, power and humanity and he’s been doing it for half a century. Here are the opening lines to his recently released song “Putin”:
“Putin puttin’ his pants on / One leg at a time / You mean he’s just like a regular fella, huh? / He ain’t nothing like a regular fella.”
His new album, Dark Matter, is his first batch of songs in nine years and there’s more than the usual biting Newman wit; there’s also a tender heart. And watching the 73-year-old songwriter amble to the Tiny Desk and singing these words, had me crying for sentiment so full of heart:
“I’m not much to talk to, and I know how I look / What I know ‘bout life comes out of a book / But of all of the people there are in the world / She chose me.”
Watch this grand master play.
- “She Chose Me”
- “It’s A Jungle Out There”
- “Wandering Boy”
Randy Newman (vocals, piano)
Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Producers: Bob Boilen, Bronson Arcuri; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Bronson Arcuri, Morgan Noelle Smith; Production Assistant: Tsering Bista; Photo: Liam James Doyle/NPR.
For more Tiny Desk concerts, subscribe to our podcast.