Randy Newman’s Story of the Great Flood

The introductory panel of Randy Newman’s song about the greatest river flood in American history says that the water breached 145 levees, flooded 17 million acres of farmland and killed 250 people. The photos are amazing. Here Aaron Neville and India Arie sing the song during what appears to be a benefit for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Newman may have had some family pressure to produce:

Newman comes from a renowned musical family. His uncle, Lionel Newman (1916-1989), scored the music for Love Me Tender and North to Alaska, conducted the music for Alien and Breaking Away, and won an Oscar for Hello Dolly. Another uncle, Emil Newman (1911-1984), composed the music for Island in the SkyRiot in Juvenile Prison, and Unwed Mother.

His most famous uncle, though, was Alfred Newman (1901-1970), who won nine Oscars for his movie music. He composed the soundtrack for All About EveThe Grapes of WrathHow Green Was My Valley, the 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame (starring Charles Laughton), Twelve O’Clock High, and Wuthering Heights. He also wrote perhaps the most famous movie music of all time, the “20th Century Fox Fanfare” — the stirring drum-and-bugle call that plays over the logo as that studio’s films begin.

Louisiana 1927 of course isn’t the type of song for which Newman is known. Here are Short People, I Love LA (performed at the Laker ring ceremony in 2002) and, in a nice duet with Lyle Lovett, You’ve Got a Friend in Me. Newman has just released a song that makes his political leanings pretty obvious.

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2 Responses

  1. Soul of Wit

    Randy is a national treasure. Most know him for his soundtrack work these days. You’ve linked to a few of his hits. At one time, it was not uncommon for Randy to release an album where half of the songs had already been covered by other well-known artists.

    This was the era when you could make a living being a songwriter. Randy was also well-respected as a pianist and often played on covers of his tunes. He owes a debt to MTV for exposing him to a wider audience.

    Here’s a link to Randy with Ry Cooder and Linda Ronstadt…

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