Topics

Norah Jones

'I overcooked it': Randy Newman on stripping down his complicated music for his 'Songbook' series

'I overcooked it': Randy Newman on stripping down his complicated music for his 'Songbook' series

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,”...

78°