Sail Away: The Songs of Randy Newman
Various Artists Sugar Hill Records
1.Tim O’Brien, Sail
by Nathan Sanders, Stringband.com
Randy Newman --- oh isn't he that guy who did the music for Toy Story? Well, yes he is. And a whole generation, if they have heard of Randy Newman, that is all they probably know of him, the guy who does movie soundtracks. But oh, there is so much more. I must admit, out of all the Randy Newman songs on Sail Away, I had probably heard one before hearing this CD, and it was done by someone else. My earliest memory of Randy Newman was the song Short People, which I heard as a kid. And I remember seeing him on Saturday Night Live a long time ago. So a CD like Sail Away is really something I enjoy because it makes me want to learn more.
This CD accomplishes several purposes. It introduces Newman's music to new generations. Possibly it introduces Newman's long-time listeners to some new artists, providing new interpretations of his music. And it serves as a tribute to probably one of the greatest American songwriters of our time. I'll not spend time on Randy's biography; you can research it yourself. And I cannot really compare these new recordings to the originals, because I am not yet familiar enough with the originals. But the artists from the Sugar Hill galaxy really get a chance to take on some great music and show their stuff. Each does a fine job. I am familiar with most of the artists on this album, but some I had not really listened to before, and thus I am curious now.
But anyway, back to Randy Newman's songs. Seems I've read a recent description of his music somewhere as being sort of a double-edged sword. You get some really awesome music and lyrics, but if you are not careful you might just get a lesson or message thrown in your face before you know it. That's the beauty of Randy Newman's music. Listen carefully to the words to really hear what he is saying, be it a history lesson, a political gripe, or a social issue being brought to light. And in today's "PC" culture, it is refreshing to hear some uncensored lyrics such as in the song Rednecks, with its satire on issues of yesterday and today. And really Randy's songs which seem to speak only to the times in which he wrote them, actually can apply to today's world nicely. Yet, if you just want to relax to a catchy tune without giving too much thought to what is being said, you can do that as well.
As said above, I am no expert on the life and times of Randy Newman, but I'm sure his fans who have been there every step of the way with him will thoroughly enjoy Sail Away, with new interpretations by some of today's outstanding talent. To new Newmanites, Sail Away is a great place to begin the journey of discovery in learning about one of the truly great composers of the modern age.