Friday, August 14, 2020

Great: Great Nations of Europe

purchase [ Newman's Bad Love album]

When I was a kid, my folks picked up a couple of Tom Lehrer albums for family entertainment. Being distant/removed from mainstream US life, we listened to our limited collectıon of LPs to the point that we had the full album memorized.  Lehrer's music was pithy and dealt with social and political issues of his day (says wikipedia about him). He played the piano to accompany his satire of current affairs, performing songs like Poisoning Pigeons in the Park and Who's Next (to get the A-bomb).

I suppose not everyone cares for the wry humor that is Randy Newman's trademark. For me, his songs give pause, a chance to stop and think about what his lyrics convey, and more often than not they tease people/animals who consider themselves "great". He's got no respect for the ones at the top.  We're talking <great>, right? There's nothing   that says great is "good" or great is "bad", as in great big mistake.

I wouldn't credit Newman with a great voice - or great piano chops. That's not his style. It's lyrics that matters. They bite, cut and hurt, but make you stop and think about what's right and what is wrong.
How prescient is Newman's Great Nations of Europe, released back in 1999. And while it may be named "...Europe", dont think for a minute that the actual target is that local. As I said, it's aimed at you and me. At the end of the story, it's a bug from out of Africa, not the China virus that's going to come for us all, just like the Conquistadors carried their bugs West in the 16th century. But for now, everyone is as happy as can be.

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