The Invisible Randy Newman

By Scott Montgomery
with Gary Norris and Kevin Walsh Randy Newman photo

Originally edited and published in Goldmine (September 1, 1995 -- Vol. 21, No. 18)

Reprinted by permission of the authors.

That's the tape
That we made
But I'm sad to say
it never made the grade....
-- Vine Street

Randy Newman on his career as songwriter: "I didn't make any calculated decision -- 'Well, I'm good at this, so that's what I'll do.' Wasn't out of any great love for it, though. I was good at it. I never wanted to be a doctor, like my father, or a lawyer. Baseball player, I wanted to be...." As fate would have it, the majors passed him by -- too much music in the blood.

Newman's uncles Lionel and Emil were composer/arrangers and a number of relatives worked in the music and movie business; even his physician father, Irving, wrote songs for a hobby (and had a Bing Crosby B-side credit for "Who Gave You The Roses" in 1959). But during Newman's childhood, all other influences were overshadowed by his "Uncle Al" -- the reknowned (prior to the MAD mascot) Alfred Newman, who scored dozens of classic films (How The West Was Won, Airport, How Green Was My Valley), as well as the 20th Century Fox signature fanfare.

A respected, larger-than-life patriarch of the Newman clan, Al Newman likely had little idea that his nephew Randy would go on to marry the haunting orchestral arrangements he heard on the soundstages to his own unique vision of pop music. Randy himself had no idea: "What I do now didn't exist then.... I figured I'd do pictures...."

  1. The Metric Music to Reprise Years (1960-1967)
  2. Something New Under The Sun (1968-1981)
  3. Trouble In Paradise (1982-1995)