“The song’s kind of about a schlepper, a schlump.”Randy Newman (730)

William Brown

“Yes – nothing happens [the song is one of the few written by Newman without a narrator – Ed]. I’ll never do it again, but I wanted to write a song in which nothing happened. There’s only one slight joke, about the guy moving from North Carolina to Omaha. The idea of moving from a beautiful green state to the Platt River I like. But I shouldn’t have done even that. It’s totally flat. At least I did it once.”Randy Newman (730)

Song For The Dead

“’Song For The Dead’ is about Vietnam. I come out strongly against the war now that it’s safe to do so. It worried me to write an anti-war song. Sort of. I’m not thrilled with it.”Randy Newman (731)

The Blues

“It’s the only song I can think of which I regret writing. It sorta makes fun of the mock-sensitive songwriter, like [Paul – Ed] Simon was and clones of him still are, where the kid gets in trouble and goes to his room and plays the piano. Now I never did that; the piano was always a drag for me, but I shouldn’t have made fun of that.”Randy Newman (732)

Mama Told Me Not To Come

“I’m making fun of the people at the party, not the kid, like an old crock!”Randy Newman (732)
“It’s a guy going to a party, and he’s a little scared. The first line [“Will you have whiskey with your water/Or sugar with your tea”] was a vague connection to acid. I don’t remember being thrown off by that stuff then. If I was that unsophisticated – which is possible – I wouldn’t admit it.”Randy Newman (1121)

Follow The Flag

“I don’t believe one word of it. There’s no clue that I don’t think the guy [in the song – Ed] isn’t intelligent or he’s misguided. But it’s like the flag, some kind of patriotism, is a refuge for him. “Oh, this can’t be a lie, everything’s good here.” That’s all it’s about. When I wrote the song, I thought about giving some kind of hint. I was going to put a koto on there to indicate it was a Japanese flag. Some sort of musical joke like I sometimes do. But I was prevented from doing it. So we just did it straight. I still almost wish I’d, but…naaah.”Randy Newman (733)

It’s Money That Matters

“Well, again, the character is unsympathetic. My heart is with the Public Radio people and the best part of the song has them “lurking in bookstores” where supposed nefarious conduct is going on. My heart’s with them, even though…I have never been accused of selling out, in any way, commercials maybe, but in general my work has been…If I’ve been trying to be commercial, I’m doing a bad job. At the same time, I am creating pop music, it’s not like I’m writing songs for the Valley Presbyterians, and you know, the record’s going out there and I’m doing interviews. So in a way I’m part of the capitalist swine I’m attacking. There are guys I knew who got 1500 on the college boards, can outspell me, were more decent and ethical fellows in some ways. They just chose a different sort of life. The trouble is, in this country, if you do, you can’t avoid getting your face rubbed in it and can’t help wondering, “Why is that little fat guy with the money with that pretty girl over there? Then you think, “It’d be nice to have an electric blanket. It would be nice to have a remote control and not have to get up from my chair.” Some people avoid thoughts like that, but they’re awful hard to avoid. So that’s what it’s about. There is more truth to that song than I would hope there would be. Money does not make you happy, but it looks pretty good, you know?”Randy Newman (733)

Bad News From Home

“Then there’s ‘Bad News From Home’ where I come out strongly against women for the first time – like Elvis Costello, but later.”Randy Newman (733)

The Great Nations Of Europe

“There’s a song called ‘The Great Nations Of Europe’, which is about European imperialism from the 15th century onwards.”Randy Newman (734)

Better Off Dead

“Then there’s ‘Better Off Dead’, which is about falling in love with a Woman Who Loves Too Much.”Randy Newman (734)

In Germany Before The War

“It was inspired by M, of course [M is a 1931 German drama-thriller film directed by Fritz Lang and starring Peter Lorre – Ed]. The line about the river and the sea [“I’m looking at the river, but I’m thinking of the sea” – Ed], that’s the point of it. With a guy like that, you can’t know what he’s thinking about. It’s just possibly incredibly stupid or nuts, or it’s just sort of a spooky picture. A lot of people in my songs, you always know what they mean, as bizarre or wrong-headed as they may be. But not that one.”Randy Newman (735)


“The guy in ‘Shame’ is a character you’re familiar with in literature. There must be somebody like that in Eudora Welty or Faulkner. A southern guy who’s old and sort of smooth but not smart enough to be really smooth, and with a bad temper. He’s got the Lexus and he’s got money and he lives in the Quarter, but this kid’s killing him. If you fall for a 22-year-old, as powerful as you are, it can destroy you. And I love that that exists, in a way.”Randy Newman (735)

A Few Words In Defense Of Our Country

“I think ‘Defense Of Our Country’ is different, it makes specific references to people and the make-up of the Supreme Court, so it’s sorta of its time. But it can probably be played again when there’s a future administration that’s also bad, although I can’t believe we’ll ever again have things as bad as we do now. I like the randomness of the lyric and the various people it brings in, like wondering why everyone thinks King Leopold is so great!”Randy Newman (736)
“I wrote it because I thought the [second – Ed] Bush administration would be one of the worst of my lifetime, maybe the worst we’d ever have. Little did I know Donald Trump would make him look like Winston Churchill. The comparisons in the song are ridiculous, saying Bush is not as bad as the Caesars. He’s not as bad as [the Roman emperor – Ed] Tiberius, because he didn’t kill little boys. He’s not Hitler or Stalin. But I do that song now, and it gets a bigger reaction. Who could have prepared for this?”Randy Newman (1121)

Piece Of The Pie

“I don’t really want it to be seen as me attacking Mellencamp for doing a commercial, but I would attack General Motors for saying “this is our country”, there’s a kind of empirical arrogance going on that I’m not comfortable with. It seems a little too jingoistic to my ears. I’ve never met Mellencamp, I don’t know if he’s gonna like the song, but who cares?”Randy Newman (736)