Randy Newman knows what it’s like to be confused.
“Sometimes at the movies I’ve gotta ask my kids what the hell’s going on,” said the veteran songwriter and Oscar-winning film composer. “I’m real loud in the theater: ‘Wait, who’s that guy?’”
So although he has always delighted in using his records to set up trap doors of intent — as in his oddball late-’70s hit “Short People,” in which a jaunty groove belies the bitter sarcasm of the lyric — Newman is sympathetic to anyone seeking a firm grasp on what exactly he means.
“Apparently, my songs are complicated enough,”...