Randy Newman’s Australian tour was due to open in two weeks, playing solo, mostly relaxed and rich with quality – after all, as discussed in an interview with me late last year (read here) he’s got a really deep and satisfying catalogue of often-genius work from which to draw.
However, personal circumstances have seen the tour cancelled, the statement released by the promoter saying: “Unfortunately, due to a longer-than-expected recovery period from a recent operation, Randy Newman must cancel his upcoming tour of Australia and New Zealand. Newman says, ‘I couldn’t be more sorry, I really couldn’t. I wanted very much to perform in Australia and New Zealand. I promise I’ll make it up to you. I am especially sorry not to be there in person to express my support for, and love of, Australia during this time of crisis.’ Ticket holders will be entitled to a full refund from point of purchase. For any queries, please contact email@example.com”
So as a small compensation for those of us who are gutted at the news, here’s some banter which didn’t make it into that story, with Newman talking foibles, films and fun.
Given the variety of musical styles in which Randy Newman has worked you could call him not so much flexible as agnostic: what works, works. But is there a default position, a starting point whenever his sits down at the piano that he may have to work hard to move away from?
“Shuffles,” Newman says immediately. “I like them too much. I’ll often start [he mimics an almost blues rhythm] like that and I have to not write one. I love them but it’s time to stop. One time they asked Miles Davis why he wasn’t doing ballads anymore and he said he loved them too much. So I need to stop.”
He pauses then adds, with a chuckle, “unless there’s a movie.”
Speaking of movies, his soundtrack to The Meyerowitz Stories sounds like he was relaxed and having fun, which may be unintentionally insulting if that suggests it was easy to do.
“Please, you kidding?” he says. “It’s easier: it was just playing piano. And a lot of it was with the director sitting there and just playing to the picture like an all-time movie theatre.”
It sounds so easy on the ear, pleasurable to listen to as it sounds like it must have been to play.
“It was sort of fun to do. There wasn’t any of this agonising about whether it’s going to be an oboe or clarinet, whether it’s minor or major. It was sort of fun. I just did another movie from Noah [Bambach] Marriage Story, with Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, with a small orchestra, chamber orchestra and that was different again for me. I’ve never done that, and there’s some good stuff in there.
“[Scores] mean as much to me as the song stuff, maybe because of the family I came from.”
Does he take requests in his live shows?
“Yes, I do. If it’s something I play. If it’s a song of mine that I don’t play I sort of ignore it. Why, is there something you’d like to hear?
Well, I would love to hear something from The Meyerowitz Stories.
“I’ll listen to some of it and see if I can get it together for you.”
Randy Newman plays: nowhere for now. Let’s hope he reschedules.