I made a cryptic comment about Randy Newman the other day. It was supposed to be something I’d bring up when I wrote about it at some future date, maybe in November, on Newman’s birthday. But my friend Rocco, who I’ve known since our FantaCo days in the early ’80s, asked about it, as well as confirming that I went with him to see that dismal Joe Jackson concert in ’89. And since today is Rocco’s birthday, I’ll tell the story now.
I was in the Poughkeepsie, New York train station, coming home from a conference c. 1999. Poughkeepsie’s about halfway between Albany and New York City, along the Hudson River.
I see walking into the ticket area a guy, a woman and a couple kids. That’s Randy Newman. Isn’t it Randy Newman? I LOVE Randy Newman!
If it’s Randy Newman, I know what I’m going to say to him. I’m going to say, “I love your music! I’ve loved your stuff ever since I heard Political Science, and it’s as relevant today as ever. [I know all the words, but I wouldn’t have said THAT; too geeky]. When I heard When Somebody Loved Me [which he wrote] in Toy Story 2, I practically cried. [This is a lie; I actually did cry.] I have about a half dozen of your albums. I really like the I Love L.A. video. I even like the Band-Aid commercial you’re [then currently] in. I hope you get the Oscar one of these days. [He had been nominated about a dozen times, and wouldn’t win until 2001; see this timeline.]
So I walk over to him and I’m about to say something, but before I get a chance, he says, “Randy Newman,” answering a question I had not yet asked. But it felt like he was just having a long day the way he said it. So I said, “OK,” and left it at that, all my admiration left unstated.
If I get a chance in the future, I hope to say those things, except that I’ve gotten as couple more of his albums, I loved his music for The Princess and the Frog, and was hoping he’d win for one of his songs in that film.
So that’s the story, Rocco. Happy birthday, friend; go blog something, even if it’s to acknowledge your natal day.