From Whence a Song
While channel surfing late last week, I chanced upon an episode of Austin City Limits from 2011—an episode I’d not previously seen, featuring Randy Newman.
Those not paying much attention during the past five decades probably know Newman from such hits as “Short People,” or “I Love L.A.,” or from his dozens of Hollywood soundtracks, including the recent “Toy Story” trilogy. But those for whom music is more than just background noise know that when it comes to turning emotion into words and melody, Randy Newman is in a league of his own. “Marie,” “Feels Like Home,” “I Miss You,” “Guilty,” “I Think It’s Going To Rain Today”—these are but a few of the vast trove of plain-spoken yet deeply poetic confessionals in which Newman—whether writing in character or for himself—pours his heart into song.
One such song—a particularly poignant and melancholy piece entitled “Losing You” (which I heard for the first time while watching that Austin City Limits set)—has haunted me for days. Newman in the past has said he doesn’t necessarily know how his songs come to him, but this song—a meditation on the cruel difference between loss during youth versus loss when one is farther along life’s path—seemed so close and so true, I couldn’t believe it came out of nowhere.
Sure enough, after poking around a bit, I found this wonderful video on YouTube, from Guardian.co.uk, in which Newman first discusses the painful story that served as the genesis for “Losing You,” and then plays a beautifully soulful version.
I hope it moves you as much as it continues to move me.
Good to meet another Randy Newman fan. ‘Losing You’ is really a great song. A few of my favorites are Rider in the Rain, Dixie Flyer, and, of course, Potholes, which is on the Harps and Angels album along with Losing You. Cheers!
His talents span so many musical genres—it’s hard to think of anyone else who compares.
I saw that same broadcast. It was amazing that a performer can go out onto the stage, sit down at the piano and give such an enjoyable performance. No razzmatazz. Just giving of himself to an audience. Now that’s how the great ones do it.