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Land of Dreams

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Few artists who began their careers in the '60s held on to their visions in the '80s; the world made a mess of people's lives. However, Randy Newman only seemed to get better. The social critic in him came alive in a decade of excess. Oversized drums, hard rock guitars, and rap music might not be what fans expected from Newman, but here he uses them all to hit his targets dead on. "It's Money That Matters" even borrows Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler to tilt the sentiment of their "Money for Nothing" to the furthest extreme. "Masterman and Baby J" tries to understand the appeal of constant bragging in rap music. "I Want You To Hurt Like I Do" transforms "We Are the World" into an anthem for selfishness. Sharp humor isn't all Newman offers; the opening trio of tunes traces back to Newman's childhood in New Orleans and Southern California. But true to form, he tires of autobiography and settles into songs that study patriotism ("Red Bandana," "Follow the Flag") and right-wing politics ("Roll with the Punches").


Born: 28 November 1943 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

An anomaly among early-'70s singer/songwriters, Randy Newman may have been slightly influenced by Bob Dylan, but his music owed more to New Orleans R&B and traditional pop than folk. Newman developed an idiosyncratic style that alternated between sweeping, cinematic pop and rolling R&B, which were tied together by his nasty sense of humor. Where his peers concentrated on confessional songwriting, Newman drew characters, creating a world filled with misfits, outcasts, charlatans, and con men. Though...
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