Randy Newman Takes On The Administration

Last month, the Academy’s perennial nominee Randy Newman saw “a slightly expurgated version” of the lyrics to his new song “A Few Words In Defense Of Our Country” run as an an op-ed piece in the New York Times. A sample:

I?d like to say a few words
In defense of our country
Whose people aren?t bad nor are they mean
Now the leaders we have
While they?re the worst that we?ve had
Are hardly the worst this poor world has seen

If anything, it’s a reminder of the songwriter’s Sail Away era, before he was the go-to soundtrack song man. He spoke with Newsweek about the tune and his writing:

Newsweek: You?ve been scoring films for almost 30 years now. So you never find yourself having to curb your instincts?

Randy Newman: If you?re scoring a scene where he?s riding down the highway and he?s crashing into things and he sees stuff that scares him, I write the spook music. I do whatever I can do to serve the picture. I?m not interested in writing Bruckner?s 10th symphony, even if I could. I?m interested in doing what?s best for the picture. It sounds a little too noble, but that?s exactly the way I look at the job.

Newsweek: So what prompted this song, then, at this time?

Randy Newman: It?s the noisiest kind of administration and the noisiest kind of incompetence I?ve seen in my lifetime.

At least Nixon knew the rules and then broke them. But putting someone in prison and not letting them see a lawyer or know what they?re charged with? Maybe they?ve snuck it all along, Kennedy on down. But they?ve actually admitted it, with [U.S. Attorney General Alberto] Gonzales up there saying this is higgledy-piggledy-ing about big giant American things that we are proud of. It?s really odd, the certitude, the way Cheney, Bush and Rumsfeld acted, we?ve never seen anything like this. Against my will almost I wrote something. This is an aberration. They?ll be gone and I don?t think we?ll have anything this bad again.

We’re guessing it won’t make the Toy Story 3 soundtrack. Here’s a video of the polemic which, despite Randy’s intentions, still sounds like it should be sung by a claymation character during a third act flashback.

For the lefties, here are the lyrics:

I?d like to say a few words
In defense of our country
Whose people aren?t bad nor are they mean
Now the leaders we have
While they?re the worst that we?ve had
Are hardly the worst this poor world has seen

Let?s turn history?s pages, shall we?

Take the Caesars for example
Why within the first few of them
They had split Gaul into three parts
Fed the Christians to the lions
And burned down the City
And one of ?em
Appointed his own horse Consul of the Empire
That?s like vice president or something
That?s not a very good example, is it?
But wait, here?s one, the Spanish Inquisition
They put people in a terrible position

I don?t even like to think about it
Well, sometimes I like to think about it

Just a few words in defense of our country
Whose time at the top
Could be coming to an end
Now we don?t want their love
And respect at this point is pretty much out of the question
But in times like these
We sure could use a friend

Hitler. Stalin.
Men who need no introduction
King Leopold of Belgium. That?s right.
Everyone thinks he?s so great
Well he owned The Congo
He tore it up too
He took the diamonds, he took the gold
He took the silver
Know what he left them with?
Malaria

A president once said,
?The only thing we have to fear is fear itself?
Now it seems like we?re supposed to be afraid
It?s patriotic in fact and color coded
And what are we supposed to be afraid of?
Why, of being afraid
That?s what terror means, doesn?t it?
That?s what it used to mean

The end of an empire is messy at best
And this empire is ending
Like all the rest
Like the Spanish Armada adrift on the sea
We?re adrift in the land of the brave
And the home of the free
Goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye.

Think Randy’s a donkey or an elephant?

Tags: Randy Newman