Randy Newman on America.

In an article about the singer songwriter Randy Newman for Cream in June 1974, Clive James wrote:

At his wonderful Festival Hall concert last year it was disturbing to hear how easily the billows of laughter rolled when Newman, singing Political Science  got to the lines:

They all hate us anyhow
So let’s drop the big one now.

It is a funny song, but it doesn’t spring from mere hipness. It springs from a profound regret.

It’s some thirty odd years since Newman wrote Political Science,  but with his latest political song A Few Words in Defense of Our Country, he proves that once again he can write a a character – with Newman, it’s very unwise to presume that the speaker is the songwriter himself – who is full of regret, this time regret that that the rest of the world has come to view America as an evil. 

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.

The reality, according to the speaker, may be that America predominance in the world may be ending. 

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.

It’s the long goodbye then.


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