Half A Man

“I meant to make fun of the idea that homosexuality is contagious. That’s what the song is about, that you can catch it from somebody, which is what maybe these idiots are afraid of and why they’re so angry at gay people.”Randy Newman (371)
“It was a really funny song, but it scared me, you know? Propounding the theory that homosexuality is contagious. It was inspired by a story my father told me when I was about twelve. He’s a doctor, and he had this patient. He told me that this guy had never had a trace of homosexuality, nothin’, and all of a sudden he was taking a shower at the YMCA…Boom! He went down on this other guy, and the guy beat the shit out of him. He tells this to a twelve-year-old! Isn’t that something for a father to tell his kid? Holy Christ! I was just starting junior high school, having to take communal showers…And I remembered that story for 20 years.”Randy Newman (728)

A Wedding In Cherokee County 

“With that one, I was real interested in Albania at the time. Four thousand people and eight thousand goats, real vitriolic. I wanted to write them an anthem: “Albania, Albania,” but it didn’t work out, so I wrote this Albanian wedding song. But I didn’t have enough information so I moved it to Cherokee County for a concept album.”Randy Newman (372)

Same Girl

“This is about two junkies in love.”Randy Newman (372)

Four Eyes

“The big idea here is that it’s the first step away from home. You’re starting on the road to work. And it’s: “Work? You’re not going to leave me here, are you?””Randy Newman (373)

Red Bandana

“Is about someone who is dangerously ignorant – mad, bad and dangerous to know.”Randy Newman (374)

Bad News From Home

“It’s an angry guy. A little like a made for TV drama in which he follows his wife to Mexico. It touches on the sort of Jim Harrison areas that I don’t like: the tough ex-patriots. But it doesn’t quite get there. But it feels good and it works. It’s dark and scary.”Randy Newman (374)

I Want You To Hurt Like I Do

“I had difficulty with a divorce and getting married again. This song was meant to be comedic believe it or not.”Randy Newman (374)

Losing You

“My brother who’s an oncologist, dealt with cancer, and early in his practice he had a 23 year-old kid, a football player at Cal I think who had brain cancer and he died very quickly. The parents of the kid talked to my brother and they said, “we lost our family, 40 years ago in the extermination camps in Poland and we got over that. Eventually we got over it but we don’t have time now to get over this.” It’s a big idea in a way where you reach a certain point in life and you just don’t have time to get better from it. I changed the circumstances a little bit but I wrote this song with that in mind.”Randy Newman (612)

Yellow Man

“Just an exaggerated — not too exaggerated, but they’re always a little exaggerated so they’ll be…dramatic — it’s kind of a redneck’s view of China.”Randy Newman (729)


“‘Pants’ is about these big heavy pretentious rock’n’roll acts like Kansas or Styx. I saw some big rock shows, in a baseball arena, which I’d never seen before, and I couldn’t believe whatta impersonal thing it was The artist is way up here and the crowd, they’re like sheep with arms!” He raises his arms, opens his mouth, and fawns blankly at the ceiling. Heads turn in the lobby. It was nothin’. This kind of false sexual innuendo, you know, ‘I’m gonna take off my pants! – the whole thing was a drag, and really demeaning to the audience. Who wants to put these…these…anybody on a pedestal like that?”Randy Newman (728)

Story Of A Rock ‘n’ Roll Band

“That song…what I like about it is that I got everything so wrong: mispronounced the name of the town, made up their names… And they do have these idiosyncracies about their music that are funny. It’s maybe a kind of a joke, but I wouldn’t have done it if I really hated them [ELO – Ed] like I hate some people. No matter how successful they’ve been, it’s too easy to take a shot at someone, and it’s not a shot. I’d tell ya if it were.”Randy Newman (728)
“[On later meeting and working with Jeff Lynne – Ed]. He knew every bit of it. And what I like about that song is getting the guy’s names all wrong, you know? Giving them American names. “Bobby Joe played the big violin that stands on the floor.” So yeah, Jeff laughed at that. But you know, I’ve admired their [ELO’s – Ed] work…they made some very fancy records.”Randy Newman (733)


“But if I get it wrong, I know I got it wrong [writing about something he hasn’t personally experienced – Ed]. I’ve written songs where I know I just didn’t have the people right. ‘Ghosts’ was the last one. It’s about an old man who fought in World War Two and now has nothing and is a bit bitter, not absolutely likeable. He talks about colored kids, which in the States – I hear it here – but in the States you don’t call black people colored.”Randy Newman (728)

Political Science

“I think I got into a character, this sort of jingoistic type of fellow. You know, it isn’t the type of song I wanted to write much of. Not that I didn’t love Tom Lehrer, but I don’t want to be, like Don Henley says, “What’s this, another novelty song.” And I do write a lot of those, songs that are meant to be funny in a form that listeners take the people in it more seriously than literature.”Randy Newman (1036)


“That was actually one of the rare events where I actually saw the character. I saw Lester Maddox on The Dick Cavett show. They sat him next to Jim Brown, the audience hooted at him, and he didn’t say a word. Maddox didn’t get a chance to be bad on that show. And I thought, “Now, I hate everything that he stands for, but they didn’t give him a chance to be an idiot.” And here he is, governor of a state—these people elected him in Georgia, however many million people voted for him—and I thought that if I were a Georgian, I would be angry. I would be angry anyway, even if I were a nice, liberal, editor of the journal in Atlanta. And so I wrote that. And there are some mistakes in it, like, that guy wouldn’t know the names of all those ghettos, but, so what.”Randy Newman (1036)