Randy Newman, Alfred Newman Lionel Newman, Simon Smith discussed on Awards Chatter
Popular Music's most individual visual talents close quote and quote an extreme example of the singer songwriter close quote who quote represents something precious a serious artist working in a popular genre close quote and by one thousand nine hundred ninety eight the New York Times declared quote subversive young artists hoping to break new ground had better just just give up because Randy Newman has inevitably been there. I close quote that same year variety asserted that he quote belongs with Dylan springsteen and Simon and on the Mount Rushmore of the greatest American rock era singer songwriters close quote and a year later. The Guardian cut right to the chase quote. He is the best songwriter in the world close quote but you don't have to trust journalists and critics just ask Bob Dylan himself who said quote there aren't many songwriters in Randy's sleek. He knows music a song Louisiana or cross Charleston Bay also known as sail away. It just doesn't get any better than that. Close Quote Newman was inducted into the songwriters hall of fame in two thousand two and the rock and Roll Hall of fame in two thousand thirteen but what is perhaps most remarkable about him is that he is just about artist prolific and celebrated as a film composer as he is a singer songwriter indeed his film scores include nineteen eighty one's ragtime nineteen eighty-four is the natural nineteen nineteen ninety s awakenings and Avalon nine thousand nine hundred eighty Pleasantville to thousands meet the parents two thousand three seabiscuit and most famously nine nine different pixar films nineteen ninety-five toy story nine thousand nine hundred and bugs life one thousand nine hundred ninety toy story two two thousand one's monsters INC for which he in his first Oscar on his sixteenth nomination for the song. If I didn't have you two thousand six's cars two thousand ten toy story three for which he won his second Oscar her for the song we belong together two thousand thirteen monsters university two thousand seventeen cars three and two thousand nineteen toy story four over over the course of our conversation at Newman's home studio sitting beside the piano on which he creates many of songs the seventy five year old and I discussed his emergence at the dawn of the singer Songwriter Era A. and why unlike most of his contemporaries he has always preferred writing and seeing songs as characters more than himself how it felt for his original songs longs to win the acclaim of critics and respect of colleagues but rarely a mass audience why it wasn't until the nineteen eighties that he finally ventured into film composing and and what led him in the mid nineties to Pixar and what he makes of his crazy two thousand nineteen in addition to scoring toy story four he also wrote. What a great song for the film. I can't let you throw yourself away. He's featured on five year plan a track on chance the rapper's debut studio album the Big Day which opened that number two on billboard's. US Chart his songs same girl was heard on an episode of HBO's Buzzy New Show Euphoria and he composed his first dramatic score in almost two decades for Noah bombecks marriage story which has emerged as one of the year's top Oscar contenders across the board and so without further Ado but with some wonderful audio snippets made available to us by Mr Newman for this milestone episode of our podcast. Let's go to that conversation. Mr Newman thank you so much for joining us great to have you on the podcast. We always begin with just a few basics. Where were are you born and raised in. What is your folks do for a living. I was born in Los Angeles and my father was a doctor and my mom took care of my brother and and I don't think there's a family more associated with movie music than yours and I wonder if we happen to have a listener who is not up on their history. Can you just share who the Newman family is. Comprised of. It's comprised of Alfred Newman Lionel Newman Able Newman when who were all film composers administrators. Lionel was head of music at Fox for forty five years yeah Alfred this one nine Kademi awards and deserve them. He was really good and he came out here. In nineteen thirty and their father was gone Sam those seven voice and three girls in the Newman family and Al came out here nineteen thirty when he was like twenty nine nine or thirty years old. There's some debate about that winning this war but then the whole family followed them and and when you were growing up where you did you see them at work as a kid yeah I did. I go on the sound stage. I remember I think I remember all about eve. A little bit of wow and a movie called the gunfighter. When I was really young I remember seeing it at the studio because it's kind of a distant western school yeah and I know I remember or like the king and I tercel. I don't know where he recorded little sure from watching them particularly. I think Alfred sounds like Eliya watching them at work. Did it make the idea of following in their footsteps appealing or did it look like something that you might not want to do well. It looked intimidating and whenever I saw him in later years you know after piano working which is what he did all day every day. He didn't seem happy back there. You know deadlines and even good as he was. Maybe because he was good. We worried about little things I mean. He played me things soon. You'll what do you think of this people counter melody and I said Yeah I mean I think so. I think it was when he was doing airport. Looms less awesome okay so now your own music education I read you know it starts out fairly conventionally. You're doing piano lessons like a lot of kids at seven or eight or whatever but I wonder what happened when you went to get actual training at Ucla where you go there but you don't finish their what was the reason reason for that lack of parking in a way I came close. They're talking about getting degree to do something but yeah I was just organized. You know people have counselors there and they say you take this. You take this then when you go to the I. I must have missed that week. 'cause I didn't have a counselor or anything and it was a bit of a mess you know the bad dream that a lot of the people have that they have a test in a class that didn't even though they had I had that how immorality and fell to us who is lenny and had he impact the direction your life. Tuck as you left school at Seventeen. Our parents were already leaps school so I was thirty eight time. I got Latin but let the parents were friends. He was his dad was a violinist in the Fox Orchestra and he was friends. Vow I guess and my father and that's how I met a lending you know we played war war and things like that and he was always remember he'd make up movies. One was called the title because I used to tease him about later. Later platform in the sky is called and he'd make them up and I listen to half years younger than He. I think there are two years. Here's to it's funny. He was the certainly the creative one between the two of us also he was braver. You know wouldn't I go to play songs for people he would have set it up and he would go like mckean judy and play the songs. It'd be very hesitant about audits of the way for a long time but he was essentially if I understand correctly like one of your big champions who said you should do more with this. Let's go to New York. Let's pitch as a songwriter will you was. I mean we went to new. York wasn't surly a pitch but I mean maybe wanted to meet or we wanted to meet. Maybe the Jerry Lieber which we did and did play him some songs I think for and against them on depending leafing well so you do now at that point go to work as a songwriter for higher centrally. At what point did you realize realize maybe I should start singing my own songs too. I started sort of a contract song. We're going to have sixteen seventeen so I'm still going to school and and I never necessarily that I can recall lenny would remember better than I thought. Oh I should be singing recording. I I don't know whether I ever did a couple record. Companies thought that it might be possible and warners and I signed with the wars and this was the dawn of the whole singer-songwriter. I want to read back to you. Something something that you said that I thought was interesting quote. When I started out I was certainly an of Carole King. If I ever had a hero of any it kind it was her close quote. You've also said that your nine hundred and sixty five Song Simon Smith and the amazing dancing bear was quote the first song I wrote where I wasn't trying to be carole king. It was the first song I wrote that sounds like me close quote why was Carole King such an influence and then what it means to sound like what she did yeah electricity fons record and all that kind of thing I liked seem like in those days we were interested in changes changes and she she knew the literature she knew the Song Literature Preceding Nineteen fifty four preceding rock and roll and she had enormous melodic talent Alan. I thought so that was what I mean hero. You know I don't know but that was scratching for an answer right but certainly someone I admired and aspired to be like I thought but I wasn't like her well. I guess the thing that you ended up doing doing differently starting with Simon Smith. It was slamming Smith. I say that because I remember it but I think there's other songs a little odd but before remember what they are but when you say this thing that you were doing that was unusual maybe not unique but unusual was essentially writing from the perspectives of people other than yourself exactly right as you were coming up where other people doing that. Where did the idea even for that come from the other no shyness Shi'as. Maybe yeah I mean. I don't know where it came from. I tell you when I I I know I read things were they. Had that really interested stood me. The Alexandria Quartet for instance where there's four different books different characters perspectives on things and things are not as they seem to. I can't do that in a song necessarily but it interested me you know sometimes aberrant personalities and the guy with the barest harmless but it's exploiting someone somewhere or some bare but I found that interested me and what I write something that pure me. It's difficult will fit. Saul snob to some answers. They wouldn't think big ways amazing calphalon. Is there any reason why you're drawn seems to not only writing from the perspective of others but the perspective generally early of others who are not always the most upstanding enough people well. It's more interesting to me than Heroes Yeah Yeah. I kind of don't believe in it heroes. I've always thought that it's a little I like it better. You know when you're playing tune audience audience theoretical entirely but I mean you don't want to be up there pontificating. Even though you're raised up I like to be on the flats. You know on on level with the idol really like did you can't see but but yeah see. I've always thought mistakenly the anyone could get my song. I mean what's hard about him. There it is my life is good guys. Clearly not someone you'd along. You're bowling team. You know what I wonder is when you started doing this kind of music in your twenties. I guess it would be where these personas zone is a reflection of your own mindset at that time because I've read. You've talked about another interviews. You had something like a dozen car accidents by the time you you were first breaking through. You've said you were a heavy drinker. Were you. Were you upset. About what was your life. I got got songs out of it when I was trying to. I guess with purdue juvenile offenders look at night and I heard my father come in to get me. He said whereas my angry mad that I didn't know what it was. I was unlucky. Lucky you get caught with that. Everyone else did and I don't know what I was angry about today the truth right but yes I was angry. I knew a lot of other people who were chair. I wasn't a heavy drinker. I would say I couldn't have done that but you know we drink drink on the weekends standing outside our cars. You know that was a We'll talk about how the first studio album self-titled came about and also how I guess it came to include a song that maybe is this covered almost any of yours. I think it's going to rain today a which had already been around for a while. You'd already done it yeah..