I think Randy Newman is inappropriate in any context. His voice drives me bonkers and all of this songs sound the same to me. All plinkety, Western saloon piano with a warmed over boogie beat. It makes my teeth hurt just to think of it.
When I was in high school, I went to book signing for John Cleese, and was lucky enough to get him to sign my copies of both the Monty Python scripts and the complete Fawlty Towers scripts (/ brag). There was a Q&A session, and some random fan asked him what kind of music he liked, for some reason. Cleese looked a bit puzzled, and responded that he didn’t listen to music all that often because he usually didn’t find it preferable to silence. But if he did listen to music, it was liable to be Bach or Randy Newman.
That response almost made me rethink my love for the man. But I looked past it, because love is deeper than that. After all, he’s spent pretty much his entire adult life writing and performing comedy, going back to his college days, so the guy hasn’t had much time to listen to music. Still, c’mon John.
Newman’s most famous tune, “Short People,” might be the most inappropriate Randy Newman tune of all, for many reasons. In retrospect, it seems insane that the song was not only released, but became an enormous hit. It’s one thing for him to compose a song full of hate (ironic or not). It’s another for everyone to decide to buy it. Not cool, people of the late 1970s. Then again, what do I expect from people who thought avocado was a good color for appliances?
Of course, if David Eckstein finds his way onto a major league roster this season, “Short People” would transform from inappropriate to mandatory.