Sept 2009: I put on Randy Newman’s ‘Trouble In Paradise’ this morning. I was busy eating porridge, hanging clothes on the line, watering lettuce and rainbow-chard seedlings, and not really paying attention to Randy. I bought this album several weeks ago from the Record Finder, where I sheltered from buckets of winter rain that were being tossed down onto Fremantle. After an hour or two, I walked out, twixt buckets, with Randy, Tanya Tucker, Charlie Rich (doing an interesting, macho version of ‘Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child’) and Rusty and Doug Kershaw: no risks, just solid substance to add to my collection.
Because Randy has a lot to say, at first his songs can be obscure and impenetrable. I have to familiarise myself thoroughly with an album of his before I love it; it might take months of desultory, “Oh, that’s right, I could put on that new [sic] Randy Newman album.” Maybe if he wasn’t packing so much – so many ideas – into his songs, they would be more direct and accessible; of course, this aspect that makes him unpalatable at first is exactly what makes him so rewarding, year after year, to the persevering listener.
So this morning, Randy was singing about something or other. One particular line - the chorus - was being repeated often enough to catch my attention, “My life is good! My life is good!” And then, “My life is GOOD, you old bag!” And I thought, “Well, that’s why I love Randy.”