Review Summary: "The Randy Newman songbook, Volume 1" really is a must for anyone who doesn't dislike a peaceful piece of piano and beautiful lyrics, punctuated with a marvellous sense of humour.
For "The Randy Newman Songbook, Volume 1" Randy Newman, one of the funniest people on this planet in my opinion, has rerecorded 18 songs he wrote during the last 40 years. The special facet of this album however is that he has made the choice to make it a very sober one, while he normally likes working with a lot of arrangements. We can hear an old man singing and playing piano on acoustic versions of his early classics like "Sail Away", his more recent work like "The Great Nations of Europe" as well as some film music like "When She Loved Me". He definitely finds a way to bring them on a way which makes them sound more beautiful, honest, heartfelt and touching than ever. Has Randy Newman begun writing his musical testament?
The first song on the record is "It's Lonely at the Top", a song he originally wrote for Frank Sinatra. It's said that the latter refused to record the song because he thought the people wouldn't see the irony. Well if there's one thing Randy Newman knows the first thing about, then it's irony indeed. Moreover, he often writes his songs from the perspective of the narrater which has resulted in lively yet sometimes critical songs. Proof can be found in for example "God's Song", where he draws a bead on religion from God's point of view, and "It's money that I love", a memorable comment on runaway capitalism.
One of the most astonishing assets of Randy Newman's songs is that no matter how long ago they were written, they are still relevant today. The fact that "Louisiana 1927", which lampoons the inadequate government response to the Louisiana flood of 1927, killing hundreds and displacing hundreds of thousands across six states, suddenly became an anthem in the aftermath of the hurricane Katrina catastrophe of 2005, says enough. And I'm sure that if "Political Science", which criticizes the American arrogance in having contact with other nations, had been published today, nobody would notice that it's actual a song from the seventies.
But besides possessing the art of irony, Randy Newman is more than anybody else able to release a lot of emotions with few words. In "Living without you", he creates the image of a man who can't find no reason to get up out of bed any longer since his wife left him. And of course does the classical "I think it's going to rain" appeals to on's imagination. I don't know why, but these two songs always go straight to my heart.
Overall, this album really is a must for anyone who doesn't dislike a peaceful piece of piano and beautiful lyrics, punctuated with a marvellous sense of humour. At the beginning of the album, Randy Newman claims that it's lonely at the top. Well maybe it actually Ã*s...