Hi, Randy. As with the rest of the crims, hope you are feeling better and recover speedily.

Two questions :

There are a majority of pianists on the list and a handful of guitar players. I wonder what guitar players you particularly admire, those you've worked with and not, either classical, jazz, rock or whatever.

And did you vote for Ralph Nader? How do you feel about our new El Presidente?

Jim Morin

Dear Jim,

I've been working lately with John Goux and Dean Parks and sometimes George Deering. It's because of their versatility. I love Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jimmy Page.

I didn't vote for Nader though he believes what I believe. I am worried about supreme court appointments from Bush (roe v wade, etc.) I'm not sure the country doesn't run itself, except in things like the supreme court appointment and sending the troops in. I'm not saying it runs itself well, just that it runs itself. I think the tax cut is ridiculous but so am I.

bmcgough@msn.com wrote:

Randy, thanks so much for the opportunity to submit these questions. We all appreciate you taking the time for us. I hope your back is doing much better : )


Do you ever see yourself doing any of the older material in concert again? Any chance of us ever hearing songs like "Tickle Me", "I'll Be Home", "So Long Dad", "Living Without You", "Lover's Prayer", "Maybe I'm Doing It Wrong", "Yellow Man" or "Old Man" live again? We talked about this briefly after your show at The Ryman awhile back. You mentioned to me (as you were signing my copy of Live), that you never did any of these songs anymore. So, I became curious as to why...

And of course I have to mention, PLEASE release The Odeon on DVD !!!

OK, I'll shut up now.

LC forever,


I do "Living Without You" and "Old Man". "Lover's Prayer" too, sometimes. I'd like to play "Old Man" every night but it's tough to get the audience back after I do it. thanks for asking

"Adam J. Bernay" wrote:

Were there ever any times when you really doubted that you could do what you wanted to do with your life? Or maybe a time when you didn't know what you wanted to do with your life? What did you do in those situations?

Also, the next time I'm in L.A., how about lunch (or dinner, or whatever)? :-)


Dear Adam,

I don't know whether I ever made a conscious decision about what I wanted to do with my life. I think I was pushed into music. I'm not sure I would have chosen it as a career but I'm glad I did. I know it's boring by now to hear me say it but I never leaped to the piano with joy and confidence. I wish I were more of an optimist.

When you're in L.A. have Joan get in touch with me.


Hope your back is doing much better...

I actually have millions of questions that I would like to ask you but I have trimmed it down to just these two interrelated ones...

I hope you will respond...

I was told once that George Gershwin was the only songwriter to ever claim that he never hit a writing block--when he was at the piano, he couldn't write 'em down fast enough to keep up with the constant flow of original music that came out of him...

I, unfortunately, do not share this unique musical gift...

Sometimes I will have the perfect lyrics and cannot find a melody that merits them, and conversely will hit upon a melody for which I simply cannot fathom suitable lyrics...

Question 1:
Do you hit blocks in your songwriting as well?
If so, do they surface separately as lyrical and instrumental?
What do you do to best overcome these when they occur?

Question 2:
Given the wide range of styles you weave so masterfully into your songs, do you ever have one of those days when everything sounds the same to you--no matter how hard you try to break new ground?
What do you do to step out of yourself in order to come up with something new and different?

Thanks in advance,
(Terry Shannon)
San Antonio, Texas

Dear Terry,

No real blocks. Should they loom up I lower my standards and plow forward.

Question 2: You have to write yourself out of the situations. Keep doing the same thing until you can't stand it. I have that trouble with shuffles. I've got to stop writing them.


Other than recuperating from back surgery (I sympathize, I'm suffering with a bout of sciatica myself), what are your plans (professionally speaking) for the rest of 2001?

Any upcoming film scoring, work on a new album, touring?

Get well soon,
Steve Bauer

Dear Steve,

I hope you feel better. I'm starting work on a new Pixar movie called Monsters, Inc. in March. I'd like to write some songs and make an album this year, too. Cathy wants me to do some of those songs like I did in Meet The Parents but I think it would be cheating. The way I could sell the most records was suggested to me by James Newton Howard, is to do an album of piano instrumentals with orchestra. Put a handsome guy on the cover, give him a name like Brian Hamilton, call it Starstreams and put it out without my name on it. He's right.

PollyMath@yours.com wrote:

Even if you weren't inclined to compose for orchestra without benefit of that work additionally being for a film, why not at least do more symphony dates featuring your film works --along with your achingly delightful self, of course?

Dear Polly,

I will do more symphony dates. I may even follow through on some of the commissions I've been offered.

Who would you like to work with (musician, singer, producer, or director) that you haven't worked with already?


Dear Mary,

I've been thinking about writing songs for other people, people who can hold a note, like KD Lang. I'd like to work with Peter Weir and I'd like to do a drama or horror picture.


Having attended the Royal Festival Hall concert, I have to say that the opening "Birmingham" was the most emotional start to a live concert that I have ever experienced. Now you have had some time to think about how do you think the experiment went? Would you do it again?

A non-internet friend asked me to ask why do you waste your time on soundtracks when you could be doing real "Randy" albums. His words, not mine!

Thanks (and get well soon)
Steve May

Dear Steve,

Thank you for the kind words. I would certainly do it again. I do movies because I love writing for orchestra though it scares me and the money is good. I can't make a living doing just albums, times are difficult now for geriatric artists. I've always believed when writing a song that there's a large potential audience for it. I don't think my songs are that hard to understand and I don't think my voice is that hard to take but in fact, you, the little criminals and I, are a real minority. I hope I make a lot more albums, I haven't done enough over the years.

Hi LCs, and Hi Randy!

Randy, first of all, I hope your doing better now. Get well soon!

Now, for my question: How's your work on Monsters Inc. doing? When will the movie be released, and how many Songs will there be in the movie? Can you maybe give us some info on the movie itself?

Also, do you have any plans for a new (solo-)album sometime in the future?

Thanks in advance, and all the best to you,
Oliver Reichhardt.

Dear Oliver,

I have written one song for Monsters to be sung by Billy Crystal and John Goodman. I think it's a Thanksgiving release, but it's no turkey! I don't know about other songs. I think there is going to be some interesting sounds in the orchestration. It has to depict two parallel worlds - the real world and the monster's world. I may have to get out the Krumhorns and the hecklephone.

Dear Randy,

sorry I can't resist asking you this: do you have any plans to visit Europe, more specific Amsterdam, in the "near" future? Let's say in the next two years? You know you will be warmly welcomed by all your Dutch fans!

Thanks for having the question session,
Suzanne Boer.

Dear Suzanne,

I'll let Cathy answer that one.

Cathy: Yes!

Karen Staros wrote:


You write music, you write songs, you sing, you tour, you do contract musical work. But in those times when you are not going full throttle at music, what do you do to relax? Or to amuse yourself? What are your loves outside of music?

Karen in Carlsbad, CA

Dear Karen,

I read, watch television, listen to music, play with the kids and take my wife out to dinner. I'm looking for suggestions. If I want to live a long time, I've got to find something that I can lose myself in. Lenny Waronker builds model planes he can retire any time he says and be happy with his hobby. I'll never retire. I get too much back from all of you.

Did you ever suffer from performance anxiety? How about composition anxiety? If so, what do you recommend to overcome performer's/writer's block?

--Scott D.

Dear Scott,

Sure. Every time. Not much any more. If you're going to play something for an audience you have to know it to the point where it's muscle memory. Don't get to the theater too early and don't change any fingering.

Stephanie Smilay wrote:

Hi Randy!

I do hope you're feeling better. I have the feeling you didn't know what you were letting yourself in for (but how could you not, such a noisy bunch as we are)?

Anyway, this is sort of a channel for blake, who is still too lazy to join up with randygroup:

How did you get involved with the Ally show? Did you/yours get in touch with them, or they with you, or was it all brought about by James Taylor?

Did you ever contemplate getting involved with The Simpsons? They do a lot of celebrity cameos, and in our opinion do some of the best work on TV today.


Dear Stephanie,

I think that The Simpsons is probably the funniest show in the history of television. Alf Clausen does a great job in a difficult situation. If I live long enough and they stay on the air they'll make fun of me some day. I can't see how else to get involved though Cathy knows (in a good way) David Mirkin.

David Kelley called me. Indictments are coming down in the spring. Hoping for a misdemeanor.

Scott Orme wrote:

Since the cheating has begun (with early posts, so shall I)..

Randy, I hope the back is well... I am still pissed that you aren't coming to sunny Wisconsin.

My question: Any plans to tour in the recent future (soundtracks and back pain, not withstanding)? And, if so... what are the odds of throwing a band together for a couple of the shows? Hell, half this list would be your backup band for a pittance... we'd suck, of course.

- beehive stinky cheese boy (the artist formerly known as the delegate from utah)

Dear Scott,

I'd like to go on the road again with a band. When I did it I loved the social aspects of it, you know traveling with the band and all, but I didn't like the music as well. And there was nothing of visual interest. Maybe I would have to get someone else to play so I could finally dance the way I was born to do. I liked playing with Wendy on Leno and she provided some visual interest. It's an idea.

Subject: Story behind "Cowboy" & Midnight Cowboy


What was the story behind the creation of "Cowboy"? Did you do that on spec for the movie, or were you invited to submit some score work, or what?
Why wasn't it used, since it captures the feeling of it so very well?
Were there other tunes that you worked on for that film which have yet to surface?

\don wilkes
Bring Randy to Canada Committee, Wet Coast Div.

Dear Don,

I had nothing to do with Midnight Cowboy. "Cowboy" was directly inspired, however, by the movie Lonely Are The Brave.

Did you intend "Simon Smith & the Amazing Dancing Bear" to have a deeper meaning beyond the surface reading? Or is a bear, as Freud could have said (but didn't), sometimes just a bear?

Ken Bays

Dear Kenneth,

To me it meant that with some kind of a gimmick you could get in anywhere. It was a gentile bear. It's the first song I wrote in what I consider to be my own peculiar style.

Geoff Batchelor wrote:


Do you have old abandoned songs that didn't work lying around?
Do you ever pick one up and complete it?


Dear Geoff,

I have abandoned songs lying around. For the most part I don't remember them.

Geoff Batchelor wrote:


Do you write things one at a time, or do you have several pieces going at the same time?


Dear Geoff,

I write pieces one at a time.

Geoff Batchelor wrote:


Are you at last ready to admit that you have this burning, innermost, secret desire as the greatest living songwriter is to play St Georges Hall,
Bradford, Yorkshire? Can you confess it now? Come clean - you know you will feel better.


And thanks very much for taking the time to answer our questions. I really appreciate it.
Hope the back heals soon.

Dear Geoff,

I tried to play Manchester and Birmingham once. Promoters have long memories. I don't think I could draw 40 people in Bradford and I don't blame Bradford for that.

Joan Manners wrote:


You referred to us (the LC's) in an interview once, saying something to the effect that it sometimes bothers you that the very people who care most about your work often seem to miss the intended point of your songs.

Can you share any specific examples with us? Times when there was a discussion of one of your songs on the list, and we were way off base?
Please be honest. We can take. :)


Dear Joan,

I was thinking about "Emotional Girl." I don't really think that it's okay for the guy to tell his friend something so private and personal about the girl. I know some of you prefer to think of it as a straight love song, that's all right. I see it otherwise. I know that I have some emotional or psychological block that keeps me from writing for myself a straight love song. Now that I've confessed I'll probably write one.

Suzanne Boer wrote:

Dear Randy,

I was trying to imagine the following moment: suppose a little while ago you finished your latest score. Now, for the first rehearsal, you are standing in front of the orchestra. You see all members of the orchestra, sitting concentrated with your score in front of them. On your sign the orchestra starts to play. What kind of feeling is that? What's it like to have your new music played for the first time? And how do you feel afterwards?

Thanks very much for answering my question (and all our other questions).

Love, Suzanne Boer.

It's a great feeling. As I've said before the days I have with the orchestra at the end of the film are the best time I have. Sometimes because of tempo (maybe I've taken something too slow) or mistakes in reading I get a chill of fear at the beginning of the session but your question deserves more eloquence and evocation from me of deep feeling than I can summon. Everyone who does music for movies for some reason is frightened at the beginning of a job. I really get depressed when I'm writing and don't know what to do but working with the orchestra is a great privilege and I never feel less than fantastic.

jimstyro@EMAIL.MSN.COM wrote:

I have always assumed that you compose at a keyboard or piano. Have you written any tunes fiddling around with any other instruments?
Guitar, violin, tuba? If so, what songs were written on something other than a keyboard.

Thanks for your time and hope you're feeling better.

--(the lowly) Jymm

Dear Jymm,

I'm Dead was written on a synth guitar. I wrote some of Redneck away from the piano.

Scott Orme wrote:

--- In randygroup@y..., alpa1@p... wrote:

Dear Karen,
I've got to find something that I can lose myself in. Lenny Waronker builds model planes he can retire any time he says and be happy with his hobby. I'll never retire. I get too much back from all of you.

I took up woodturning recently and love it... get a lathe... wear safety glasses.... take a class... it's a blast.

-scott O.

Dear Scott,

I'd injure myself. Maybe botany.

In response to Oliver's question about Monsters Inc., Randy:

may have to get out the Krumhorns and the hecklephone.

If you need to borrow a Theremin, let me know!

--Scott D. (who is not in close proximity to a world-class orchestra but lives a few blocks from the University of Kansas' music facility, where students would be as happy as little wheatheads to play some Newman stuff.)

Dear Scott,

I might need one. I think a synth or electric violin could do the same thing.

Almost eight! (local time). Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, it's impossible to tell you how much we enjoy this.

My Dutch questions:

- if you would record a duet sometime soon, which singer and which song would you pick? (Unfortunately, I'm busy this weekend)
- Any news on Faust?

I hope you're feeling better!

From the Netherlands,
-- Jeroen Smeets

Dear Jeroen,

Chrissie Hynde and I doing something from Tristan und Isolde. I really can't think of anything.

Cathy responds about Faust:

We're working on a production here in the U.S. and there is tremendous interest in Germany! (Randy wants everyone to know that all my answers must have exclamation points!!!!! as many as I want!!!! I'm young!!! I'm alive!! I can't wait to get out of here!!)

TattyTheCat@aol.com wrote:

--- In randygroup@y..., "Kenneth Bays" <kbays1@e... wrote:

Did you intend "Simon Smith & the Amazing Dancing Bear" to have a deeper meaning beyond the surface reading? Or is a bear, as Freud could have said (but didn't), sometimes just a bear?
Ken Bays

I think many years ago Randy said that it was about performing.

I may have already posted here that a Brit national daily newspaper has a section where readers write in with questions and other readers answer. Someone asked a couple of years back if there ever was a real Simon Smith. MANY poor souls called Simon Smith wrote in complaining that they absolutely dreaded people asking them their names....and the inevitable replies, "Where's your dancing bear?", etc. I guess after 30 years it would get a bit wearing! ('bear'ing in mind that "Simon Smith" was a BIG hit here in the 60s)

~Haze, who would go out tomorrow if she could borrow some knickers

Dear Haze,

I never knew that. That's really funny.

"steven.may1" wrote:


Who's doing the typing?

Steve (The cheeky Brit)

Who do you think...

Hi Randy,

You've said in interviews that your choice of which films to score depends on whether or not you think that music will help the film.

When you are approached to do a film, at what point in the production is it - is there already a rough cut or do you have to make your decision based on a script or story synopsis?

Steve Bauer

P.S. Does Gary Norris REALLY know more about you than you know yourself? ;)

Dear Steve,

Yes, Gary knows more. I almost always get to see a rough cut. This of course is not true of the animated stuff.

Stephanie Smilay wrote:

On Wed, 7 Feb 2001, Susan McTigue wrote:

We've noticed that you only seem to be answering the questions titled "Randy Question". There are a bunch of questions already posted with the subject header of "Q" - because a certain Scott D. said it would be more concise;

What he meant was that the answers would be REALLY concise.

Evilly yours,
Stephanie S.

please don't overlook them! There's some good ones.

P.S., I concur (since one of them is mine. :)

I am not overlooking any mail. I'm looking at all of it. I even wrote back to the Viagra people.

Jacques Fiorentino wrote:

Below, is a feeble attempt I once did to interpret "Sigmund Freud's Impersonation of Albert Einstein in America". Could you please comment on how far off I was? (No gloves, bare knuckles are allowed)

If ever there were lyrics that must be interpreted individually, I would think these are it. But here we go:

My (personal) feelings are that these are surrealistic images of the turn of the century and America's emergence in the world.

Freud was the catalyst to the surrealism movement (Bunuel, Dali...) due to his work with dreams. The song feels very dream-like to me - random images and yet somehow all connected and symbolic. The relationship between Einstein and Freud? Well... Two German Jews who escaped Nazi Germany and had extremely profound influence on the 20th century?... Freud fled to England and Einstein to America. Who are these Americans? Let Freud know what they dream about and he'll have a hint as to who they are. They dream about gypsies; the one vagabond, non-structured, and free-spirited culture that Europeans can use as a point of reference to know Americans. Also a culture bordering on the savage and primitive, sexy and dangerous and violent.
"Gypsy knifes and gypsy thighs that pound and pound... And African appendages..." But the flip side of America is the image of the little boy playing baseball in the rain.

It was to become America's century and it began with asserting power in the Pacific. That's when American internationalism truly began...And that biting sarcastic and ironic allusion to God being on America's side as she takes center stage: "... step out into the light... and may all your Christmases be white." - Of course!

Listen all you LC's out there, after reading this you'll wish I would just go back to lurking and stop foaming at the mouth. Ok, ok! I will!

Dear Jacques,

You probably give me more credit than I deserve. Freud in the song, because of his lack of knowledge of America, gets the dream mostly wrong. My first wife was German and to scare her, her father would tell her that the gypsies would get her, it scared her. It's a European thing. You couldn't scare an American with that. He gets Einstein wrong too.

larrylevy@sprintmail.com wrote:

Other than your father and uncles, who influenced you the most (and how) in:

Soundtrack writing

Lyric & song writing



Dear Larry,

Jerry Goldsmith, Nino Rota, Sir William Walton, John Williams and Prokoviev for soundtracks. Larry Hart, Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew for songs.

Hi, Randy. Between music reviewers and fans, you've surely read and heard a great deal of discussion about your songs over the years. So I'm curious-- which songs do you feel have been your most underrated and/or overrated?

Anthony Torres
Dearborn, Michigan

P.S.: I met you after the Interlochen, MI concert last year. You absconded with your own autograph to me thanks to my absent-mindedness, but Joan Manners got it back for me. Thanks for not throwing it out!

Dear Anthony,

Personally, though I can't deny its effectiveness, I think that I Think It's Going To Rain is overrated. I feel the same way about Feels Like Home. Mikey's, Christmas In Capetown, Gainesville, Sandman and Davy The Fat Boy may be underrated. Who knows. The Ronstadt stuff on Faust I'm very proud of harmonically.

Susan McTigue wrote:

Do you consider yourself to be a feminist?

Yes. Though you could interpret songs like "Leave Your Hat On" and "Red Bandana" as misogynistic but I don't think of them that way. The guy in "Hat" is kind of silly and the guy in "Red Bandana" is dumb and dangerous. Their opinions don't matter.

Joan Manners wrote:

Dear Randy,

I love the song, "Bad News From Home." The music is so haunting, and the lyrics are so poetic. Over the years, there's been a great deal of discussion among LC's of our various interpretations of the song.

Could you please share with us what you had in mind with this song in terms of the story line? (Please be a specific as you're willing to be.)



It's about a woman who runs off from her husband, who owns a gas station. She's with another man in Mexico and he goes there.

tstaros@ieee.org wrote:


Tell us a bit about the Monsters project. How tight is the production schedule? Will the heavy lifting bother your back?

Does some fascist program manager at Pixar get to crack the whip?

Best Regards

Ted Staros ...always behind schedule and at work in Carlsbad CA

(We want to know if you hurt like we do.)

Dear Ted,

The people at Pixar have been real good to deal with. Not particularly intrusive and they understand music. The schedule doesn't look too tough yet.

Alistair Kerr wrote:

Hi Randy, Hope you're feeling better! :-) I've read before that you were generally happy with the first album but felt you could have done better with the vocals ( no problems here mind you ).
With that in mind, what songs do you think have brought out your best vocal performances ?

Thanks Alistair ps. hope you can make it back to the UK sometime.

Dear Alistair,

I think for the most part I do the rock songs best like "Happy Ending," "I Love LA," "Miami" and "Short People." I have pitch problems and it bothers me in some of the ballads. I think "Same Girl" is a good record.

Karen Staros wrote:

Randy, people on this list often admit to "going goofy" when they meet you. Normally intelligent members of this group start saying, according to their confessions, the world's dumbest things to you, then go home and slap themselves on the forehead for days on end, shouting, "I can't believe I said that!" What do you think when this happens? Are you used to it by now? Do you just take it in stride? And have YOU ever done the same thing when you met a celebrity you greatly admired?

Karen in Carlsbad, CA

Dear Karen,

I've never noticed that anyone was acting particularly goofy. I once had dinner with Madonna and I wasn't nervous but within about a minute I found myself talking about underwear. How I got there, I don't know. My conversations with the LCs have been great.

ninam1234@juno.com wrote:

Hi, Randy.

Are there times or occasions when you remind yourself of how much you've been able to move people's emotions through your work? Do you comprehend the impact of your lyrics? Music?

And what do you do with this awareness?

Love, Nina

I'm touched by what you say. I'm glad my music means something to people other than myself. I'm there in a room by myself and I'm working and I'm not thinking about anything else but I sometimes remind myself of people like you who are going to listen at least once to what I'm doing.

peter_gale wrote:

Randy, if you're still there, I understand you met Ron Sexsmith when you were recording Bad Love. Do you like his records?

Also, did you write the Disney jingle, orchestral on the light blue screen that comes on before the Pixar films?

And finally, many thanks for the demos on the Toy Story collector's disc. They are wonderful, especially I will go sailing no more.



Dear Peter,

I like Ron Sexsmith very much. I did write the Pixar music. Thanks for the kind words.

Oliver Reichhardt wrote:


in reply to your reply (hm, sounds a bit like Mr. G.W. Bush here, sorry for that...) to Scott's mention of the Theremin: What is your attitude towards synthesizers? Do you like using them, or are you using them only if it's absolutely necessary (e.g. when a specific sound is required that can't be done with the orchestra)? The few times you used synths on your albums, did you do all the programming yourself, or did you simply use preset sounds?


Dear Oliver,

I use synths when I need a sound that the orchestra can't give me. I never programmed them myself but just but worked with Mike Boddiker or whomever until there was a sound I liked. I think there is good synth stuff on Born Again. Things have changed. Nobody takes the time they use to because the equipment is better but I don't think the sounds are as good. It's expedient but not better.

Dear Everyone,

We're signing off for now. Randy needs to go take a nap. We've enjoyed this a great deal. It's the best interview I've ever done. We'll get to the other questions soon.



(and cathy!)

ankabim@gmx.de wrote:

Dear Randy,

Georgette Dee and Terry Truck perform at least one of your songs in each concert.

Have you ever seen them? If you have: How do you like it?


Dear Anya,

I've never seen them but I'm glad they do my stuff.


Have you ever considered going the self-produced distribute-product-over-the-Internet route that some musicians (e.g. jazz pianist Jessica Williams at www.jessicawilliams.com) are experimenting with? If so, need some help? :-)

Do you have any thoughts in general on the "new models" of distribution proposed in our post-Napster virtual world?

--Scott D.

Dear Scott,

I have thought of it and I would avail myself of your help should I do so. Thank you for the offer. I think Bad Love sold around 70K records in this country and 90K overseas (that may be high). So it may be in my best interest to try something else.

When do you intend to become a "real" composer and write some instrumental works that wouldn't necessarily be related to movies. Or how about something along the lines of Porgy and Bess? You know, an opera? With songs, too?

Faust, in Nina's opinion, was more of a musical--and she thinks you (Randy) can achieve the over-the-top emotions of an opera (along the soap-operatic over-emotionally charged lines).

--Nina (channeled by Scott D.)

Dear Nina,

Movie music is real music. I've been offered a commission by the Portland Symphony and the St. Louis Symphony to write a 45 minute orchestral piece commemorating Lewis and Clark's journey in 1803. I don't know what I'll do.

andreas scherrer wrote:

Dear Randy,

All the best for you!

Does your song "Great Nations Of Europe" include the great nation USA too?

Cheers. Andreas.

Dear Andreas,

We only began to join the club this century. Culturally, we're everywhere!

Randy, hope you're feeling better!

Attending your concert at the Birchmere was one of the high points of 2000 for me.

Any word on the possible production of Faust at the Kennedy Center?
It's a masterpiece -- the more I listen the more musical and lyrical layers I hear.

Finally, does the title of "Happy Ending" come from the lyric at the end of Kurt Weill's Threepenny Opera?

Thanks for everything.
Ralph H.

Dear Ralph,

Faust won't be at the Kennedy Center. Our man there left and started a production company which intends to do Faust.

As to the Weill, I should be so lucky.

Randy (and everyone else),

Is there no longer any point in creating a piece of "concert music" (e.g. a symphony)? Are film soundtracks virtually the only place where new, large-scale musical works stand a chance of being heard by audiences large enough to make the works economically viable?

You've been asked more than once in various chat sessions and interviews about writing some timeless opus for symphony orchestra, but I'm sure the economics of film scoring are such that it simply wouldn't make sense to spend vast amounts of time on a project that is guaranteed to lose money.

One hundred years ago, folks (apparently) used to get excited at the prospect of a new symphony by Mahler or one of his high-rolling buddies. Paul Whiteman got George Gershwin off to a rollicking start.
There must have been interest in Prokofiev's and Shostakovich's latest tunage as well. But since World War II, the only high-profile debut I can remember was that of Bernstein's Mass. How many would rush to the Music Hall to hear a premiere of the latest large-scale work by Charles Wuorinen or Lou Harrison--or Randy Newman--these days?

I think the model that music conservatories still pitch to their students still derives most of its power from the appeal to great concert music (Beethoven, Brahms, Prokofiev). Should that model change? Should conservatories emphasize film scoring (or commercial musical pursuits) far more than the idealistic pursuit of perfect abstract music? After all, Danny Elfman claims that he's never listened to any "classical" music--he learned everything from the soundtracks he's listened to. Should we stop regarding soundtracks as derivative pieces of music and focus on them as the primary sources of inspiration?

Boiling it down to its essence, should we regard the "best" music-- symphonic or otherwise--as simply that which brings in the largest paycheck? If we don't frame the musical mission in that purely economic light, are we doing a disservice to those who want to forge careers in music?

--Scott D. (who already wasted precious time on his music degree)

I just rushed to the theater to hear a new large scale work by John Adams. It was good. But, except for something like Gorecki's 3rd (Cathy: I really like it!) which appealed only to foolish young girls, concert music is not a good bet commercially but that shouldn't mean anything to those of us who love it. Too bad the Esterhazy's are gone. Paul Allen's best friend is Robbie Robertson who's not Haydn.

Hi, Randy! We enjoyed visiting with you again in Sarasota, and appreciate the time you set aside to meet your fans. My question is: Have you heard the Glenn Tilbrook song "Interviewing Randy Newman", written after his experience interviewing you for the BBC last fall? If so, what do you think of the song and how does it feel to be the subject of someone else's song?

If you haven't heard the song, it's about how Glenn felt he'd botched the interview through his lack of preparation, apparently thinking that being a fellow musician and big fan of yours was enough research. Did the interview really go badly, or was he exaggerating?


----Amy (by proxy, as I'm running 'round Atlanta in my alligator shoes.)

Dear Amy,

I have heard the song. I like it. But I don't think he botched the interview. I've done way worse.

Mark Swofford wrote:


A little while ago you asked for our suggestions for covers. There were some good recommendations from the list; but there weren't as many responses as you might have expected from this noisy bunch. I think that's cuz you haven't given us much information to work from, given your very limited forays into covering others.

So, my question is this: What songs do you play for your own enjoyment, or to entertain friends and family?

And a couple of cover suggestions from me:
"Hawg for You," found on Otis Redding's Dictionary of Soul. (A standard blues tune, with lyrics that are just weird enough to be fun.)
Also: "When Somebody Loved Me." Newman sings Newman, I know. But it would still be a cover, of sorts, cuz you didn't write it with yourself in mind as the singer. I'd like to hear it done by a man -- and who better than you? (We won't mind if cheat on the high notes.)

--Mark (in Taiwan)

Dear Mark,

Thanks for the suggestions. I play Celia Cruz and still the Comedian Harmonists but both are useless as a source for material. I've been singing to myself for years (my son mentioned this to me the other day) "Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind" by John Sebastian. A number of his things I love. I love Carole King's earliest stuff but they all were hits. I like a song named "If You Got To Make A Fool Of Somebody". It's in 3. I can't remember who did it. James something. I like Bruce Chanel's "Hey Baby" but it's been done a lot. I like "It's All Over Now" by the Valentinos and some English group.

TattyTheCat@aol.com wrote:

Hi ya, Randy!

1) Did you choose music to express yourself with or did music choose you? If you hadn't had the strong family background in music do you think you'd have still been a musician or would you have expressed your artistic genius (don't blush) through another artform? I bet a Randy novel would be brilliant! Whatever, I'm damn glad you're a musician because music would be quite grey without you!

2) You entertain us with all your personal stories, especially in interviews and during concerts and, of course, they include references to your family.
Does this ever get you into trouble? (I'm imagining cries of "Why did you tell everyone that?")

Thank you. Get well soon. Love from Haze.

Hi Haze,

No family member has ever complained they know my work is more important to me than they are. I don't think I could write a novel. In writing Faust I had no trouble writing dialogue but describing what a room looked like almost killed me. I don't know how to answer the question about family background. Maybe I would have worked harder in school and been a doctor like my brother, or even a druggist.