Song 81: Randy Newman, “Louisiana 1927”Posted: March 23, 2013
Randy Newman tends to sneak up on me. I always expect first-rate songwriting and maybe a humorous turn here and there, but I don’t expect him to wreck me with a line or melody until it’s happening. Like many people, I listened to “Louisiana 1927” with new ears after Hurricane Katrina. The song eerily echoes the 2005 flood in the government’s lax response to both disasters and the opinion that the government purposely delayed a response to the flood to weed out the lower class. The latter is a serious charge, of course, but I can easily imagine feeling that way after not being helped for days, weeks, months, years.
If you’re at all curious about Randy Newman, Good Old Boys is as good a place as any to start. It’s a record about the American south, told from the point of view of its inhabitants, in varying degrees of likability. The opening track “Rednecks” is about as brave and brilliant as contemporary pop songwriting gets.