Music (General)

50 Randy Newman Songs You Need To Hear (1 of 2)


50 Randy Newman Songs You Need To Hear (1 of 2)
Part 1: Our Randy Thoughts

Posted by Charlie Recksieck on 2023-05-30
There are only a few people I want to emulate in music.

It's not for the pursuit of sex drugs and rock and roll aspirations and groupies. Had one groupie-ish hookup and it got real weird, real fast. I'm hooked on listening to music and I'm hooked on making music. And since I end up spending so much time on it and it's the most creative outlet I can think of - I want to make music that means something. And nobody's music has said more to me than Randy Newman's.

Before we totally get off of the subject of groupies, the groupies I want to sleep with are groupies who'd want to sleep with Randy Newman.


I could go on and on about how funny he is. Instead, I'll leave it to say that SNL creator and executive Lorne Michaels has said that Randy Newman is the funniest guy he knows. Sit with that for a second. The guy who's worked shoulder to shoulder with Bill Murray, Phil Hartman, Amy Poehler and Will Ferrell said that.

Fully Realized Solo Performer

I wouldn't pay to see a lot of even my favorite musicians and singers on a special "An Evening With �"" concert. I have seen Randy, who usually plays by himself, I think eight times and am never disappointed.

Not only does he not need a band to distract from these songs, you get one of the best sit-down comedians in the biz between songs.

His Style / My Style

His influences on me are so obvious that I've been described in a review as "the stupid man's Randy Newman" which is maybe my favorite thing anybody has ever said about me.

Songs About Anything

Randy Newman describes his subject matter himself this way: "People like straight-ahead, direct love songs. That’s what 95 percent of songs going back to 1800 have been. If I wanted to sell millions of records and be famous, I made a mistake in being less direct than Neil Diamond, who America loves. They’re not going to love someone underhanded like me."

In my book, there's thousands of songwriters writing versions of the same song over and over. Whereas the Randy Newmans or Steely Dans of this world are few and far between, which gives you a better chance at doing something special.

Again, I'm just the "stupid man's Randy Newman" but I've also tried to contribute with songs about golf bragging, space trash, swingers in the Garden of Eden, celebrations of wacky TV neighbors and the pointlessness of trying to evacuate in a civil emergency. I mean, how am I gonna say "I love you" in an interesting way? Whereas, when it comes to songs about the philosophy of Wittgenstein, I think I get to own that corner.

My Playlist

Coming right up, your list of 50 Essential Randy Newman songs.

If you've come here looking for "Short People" and "You've Got A Friend In Me" to be at the top of my list �" do me a favor and get the fuck off of my website. Or dive into this list and see what you're missing. This week we’re teasing you just with the very strong top 5.

1 - The World Isn't Fair
Everything you want from a Randy Newman song. Fast pace, funny on politics and West Side liberals, great orchestration, cynicism all while still a feel-good song. One of my favorite songs to play; I get to show off remembering a complex song with about 20 chords and a blitzkrieg of trenchant observations. Late period Randy might not have equaled the consistent heights of the early 1970s, but not only has he not written many songs this good - I don't think more than 5 or 6 people have written a song this good.

2 - Rednecks
Ballsy as fuck, and not just because the narrator throws the N-word around really loosely. Most singer-songwriters just sing about their experiences and make themselves the narrator. Randy was writing short stories and not afraid to sing a song in first-person perspective from some awful characters. But the Redneck in this song gets some very legitimate jabs in about the hypocrisy of the North. And classic bouncy, Louisiana piano stuff which is his stock in trade.

3 - Sail Away
More ballsiness, sung from the perspective of a slave trader trying to lure Africans away onto his ship with the fake promise of what America will be like for them. Absolutely Hall-of-Fame, Mt. Rushmore song from Randy Newman.

4 - My Life Is Good
Just like "The World Isn't Fair", this one goes through several movements - and some rare real rock from Randy. Here he's laying out how good his rockstar celebrity life is to his kid's "old bat" of a teacher: Springsteen, cocaine, and swinging references all make this a masterpiece.

5 - It's Money That Matters
This along with "The World Isn't Fair" and "It's Money That I Love" make a case that it's great to be rich with only a dash of irony. The most musically rich and diverse (and rock) of his albums (Land Of Dreams), another personal favorite. Here's a line - "All of these people are much brighter than I; in any fair system they would flourish and thrive but they eke out a living, they barely survive." That's capitalism sometimes, folks.


Starting next week on Tuesday, June 6 you will be able to read/listen to Part 2 of Best 50 Randy Newman songs. Meanwhile, we’d love to hear YOUR favorite. Shoot us an email, Tweet or Facebook message.