I was irritated with Randy Newman for many years. We share a birthday, and as a kid, I considered it an injustice to see his name in the paper, year after year, on Nov. 28. I wanted to share the big day with someone more glamorous, more elegant. Little did I know just how elegant he'd turn out to be.
Fast forward into my adulthood, when I began to listen to Newman's catalog beyond hits like "Short People." Suddenly, I discovered the delicious melodies, the satiric lyrics, the truly American structure of his piano voicing.
I sat down with Newman here at WFUV's studios, and it turns out he's as affable as one would hope: comfortably professional and completely relaxed. He was a little jet-lagged, but he charged into "You've Got a Friend in Me" with gusto, along with songs from his latest collection, The Randy Newman Songbook, Vol. 2. As with the first installment, Newman returns to previously issued songs using "only" voice and piano.
These days, I'm proud to share a birthday with Randy Newman. He is, simply, one of America's greatest songwriters, and the hour or so we spent together is among the most enjoyable radio interviews I've ever done.