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Randy Newman fawns over Vladimir Putin in an ironic love song on 'The Late Show'

Tuesday was a relatively slow news day in America, which is to say, nobody was fired from the White House. There were no revelations of potentially impeachable presidential activity.

The writers of late-night television had to scrape a little harder for material, maybe, but they might have breathed a small sigh of relief after a week of events that must have kept them scribbling up until deadline.

Singer-songwriter Randy Newman dropped by CBS' "The Late Show" for a rare visit to perform a song called "Putin," about the Russian leader. It's from Newman's new album, "Dark Matter," which comes out Friday.

"Putin" is what used to be called a topical song — not as immediately topical, say, as Colbert's performance the previous night of a version of "Bohemian Rhapsody" retooled to bid farewell to Anthony Scaramucci — but in the old sense of lyrics addressing current events. The sort of topical songs Woody Guthrie used to write and play on a guitar inscribed with the words "This machine kills fascists."

Newman writes the funny kind, darkly. For many, he's just a man who pens sweet songs for Disney movies, such as "You've Got a Friend in Me" from "Toy Story." But he is a longtime satirist, who amplifies his acidity with a Southern California drawl and pleasant parlor piano stylings.

The ironically admiring "Putin," which he performed in front of projected slides of the sometimes bare-chested Russian president, is not a brand-new song; he first performed it in 2016. But sung in the voice of a man with a crush on a dictator, its timeliness has, if anything, become only more timely. Here's a taste:

He can drive his giant tractor
Across the Trans-Siberian plain
He can power a nuclear reactor
With the left side of his brain
And when he takes his shirt off
He drives the ladies crazy
When he takes his shirt off
Makes me wanna be a lady
Putin, will you put it next to me?

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