Friday, February 23, 2007

Randy Matters

PopMatters is one of my first stops on the net each day, and will continue to be so as long as they write good articles like this one on Randy Newman. If you know your Newman, you'll probably nod at what Zeth Lundy writes here, but it's a disturbing fact that so many still don't "get him", e.g thinking "Short People" is a song picking on, well, short people. As Lundy writes: "The way to avoid misinterpreting Newman is to doubt the narrator"

Because of several misconceptions about pop lyrics that many people have, they're bound to misinterpret someone like Randy Newman (or more recently, Pere Ubu, who do not necessarily hate women even if the album title may lead you to think so). One of the most common misconceptions about pop lyrics is that the persona of the song is (and must be) the singer and that the persona expresses the singer's opinions; there is a direct link between the writer/singer and what the lyrics express. This ignores the possibility of fiction in song. It's a rockist view, and to be fair, people think that way because so many singers yap on about how personal the lyrics on their new so-and-so are. Like good authors, good lyricist know how to use any literary trick at their disposal. And Randy Newman is a damn good lyricist.

Randy Newman - “A Few Words in Defense of Our Country”

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