By day, Randy Newman is the mild-mannered songwriter behind such family-friendly Pixar classics as Toy Story‘s “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” (which was nominated for an Oscar, and lost) and Toy Story 3‘s “We Belong Together” (which was also nominated for an Oscar, and won — I do not remember this song). But by night, he reverts to true self: the sentimentally sardonic pianist who once sang from the perspective of a trader trying to convince slaves to “sail away.” Newman is Batman, if Batman was one of America’s best subtly funny lyricists. (He’ll have to settle for being the world’s greatest detective.)
It’s been eight years since Newman’s last full-length album, but he’s remained busy by continuing to work on film scores, including Toy Story 4, and releasing the occasional tune. He has a new record coming out in 2017, though, and today he premiered the first single, “Putin.” Yes, that Putin. It’s a cheerfully satirical ode to Russia’s bare-chested president, who drives “his giant tractor across the Trans-Siberian plain / He can power a nuclear reactor with the left side of his brain.”
Newman didn’t set out to write a song about ol’ Vlad, he told the Washington Post, but “there’s an old song in the ‘40s, by the Golden Gate Quartet, a gospel song called ‘Stalin Wasn’t Stallin’ when he fought the beast of Berlin.’ About Hitler and Stalin. And I love it, that song. So I think ‘Stalin Stallin’ is what really pointed the direction to me.
Newman said he released the song now, as opposed to when the album’s finished, because “I think that people will lose interest after this surfeit of political talk and attention after the election. And I’m just anxious to get something out. I hate having to wait. I’ve got the thing done. I just want to see what happens. I’m curious to see how the thing is received.” I think Newman’s fans will like it as much as Donald Trump loves Putin.
(Via The Washington Post)