Before Randy Newman spent most of his time composing music for movies (Toy Story) and television shows (the theme for Monk), following the family trade, he was a brilliant solo recording artist whose lyrics satirized the insanities he saw around him.
His LP, Sail Away, from 1972, remains one of my favorites. (It includes a song used in the Norman Lear-Bud Yorkin film, Cold Turkey, which starred Dick Van Dyke and Bob Newhart.)
Happily, Newman has been back in the studio. Two tracks from Dark Matter, a new LP which comes out on Friday, have been released.
One of them is Putin, a hilarious and brutally honest send-up of the thuggish and pretentious Vladimir Putin. Like all dictators--a description which may be too charitable to Putin, since he's more like a mafiosi--Putin is increasingly a parody of himself, which may make him all too easy a target for Newman. But this song is delicious.
[Blogger Mark Daniels is pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]