Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wow! Randy Newman! Randy Newman. Wow.

In a blog about the antivaccine hysteria, what did I find but It's Money That Matters by Randy Newman. Always a good concept to keep in mind when you speak of the credulous.

But what put a smile on my face was Randy Newman. Randy Newman!

I will never forget the very first time I heard Randy Newman, 39 years ago. Have You Seen My Baby? Late afternoon sunlight slanted into the Dolores Street kitchen in San Francisco as I fixed dinner. I was listening to KMPX. KPFA? The DJ was a woman named Dusty Street, with the sultry stoned voice all cool SF ladies had then. She played the song. She said, "Oh, wow." She played it again. She said, "That's really far out." She played it again. "Mmmm, wow," she said, "let's hear that one more time." She played it again.

All thoughts of dinner forgotten (well, I turned off the stove) I left the apartment, walked quickly over to the J Church streetcar, transferred on Market to the Hyde cablecar, and went straight to Tower Records on Fishermans Wharf to buy the record. Twelve Songs. Oh, wow. Wow.

When I went to London I left my records behind because after all, I was only going for a few months. Then, I got my first one-year work permit and knew I would be staying, so I bought another copy of Twelve Songs. God forbid that I be without Randy Newman. When CDs happened it was probably the first CD I bought. Wow. Actually, I think I now own a couple copies of that CD too ... and let's not even think about his other ones. A dozen? Eighteen? I have them all.

Whatever alienation I was feeling in May 1970 abandoned me long ago ... but there's something about Randy Newman's words and his music and his attitude that takes me someplace otherwise unfamiliar but strangely, weirdly comfortable. Wow.

Full disclosure: I wrote this last month on the actual anniversary of hearing RN, then forgot to post it. Today I sat in endless rush hour traffic outside Yankee Stadium(s). I punched the button for WFUV just as It's Money That Matters started up. A sign!

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