Randy Newman’s foray into southwest Ohio this week, performing at Miami University’s Middletown campus Saturday, is a rare treat.
It’s not that he doesn’t like going on the road (“I enjoy doing that,” he says during a telephone interview), but he has so many competing interests, it’s often difficult to find the time. In addition to being a singer/songwriter (his first album came out in 1968) whose often-ironic, satirical and sometimes-character-driven compositions like “Short People,” “Sail Away” and “I Love L.A.” have become contemporary Pop classics, he’s also become a major composer for film.
His first breakthrough in film music came in 1981 with the Oscar-nominated song and score for Ragtime. That field has so blossomed for Newman over the decades, especially with his involvement with Disney/Pixar movies, that he’s received an Oscar (for Best Song from Monsters, Inc.) and been nominated 19 other times. His “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3 is nominated for Best Song this year. He also had two Grammy nominations this year — for Toy Story and for “Down in New Orleans” from The Princess and the Frog. The film work makes it hard for Newman to craft his usual evocative and provocative Pop songs — some of them, like “God’s Song,” with deep philosophical dimensions — on a regular basis. His last album, Harps and Angels, came out in 2008; the previous one, Bad Love, came out in 1999.
Randy Newman performs Saturday at Dave Finkelman Auditorium on the campus of Miami University Middletown. Go here to read Steven Rosen's full interview.