Born Again

Born Again
Randy Newman

All songs written and Arranged by Randy Newman

Produced by Lenny Waronker and Russ Titleman
September 1979

Born Again: Randy Newman, American copy, LP, Warner Bros 1979
side oneside two
It’s Money That I LoveSpies
The Story of a Rock ‘n’ Roll BandThe Girls In My Life (Part One)
Pretty BoyHalf A Man
Mr SheepWilliam Brown
GhostsPants
They Just Got Married
Born Again: Randy Newman, Warner Bros LP, 1979

US ALBUM CHART: #41, Australia album chart #65

MUSICIANS

Randy Newman – vocal, piano, Fender Rhodes
Waddy Wachtel, Buzz Feiten – guitar
Willie Weeks, David Shield- bass guitar
Andy Newmark – drums
Michael Boddiker- synthesizer
Victor Feldman – piano, Fender Rhodes, drums, percussion
Chuck Findley, Tom Scott – horns
Lenny Castro, Carlos Vewa- percussion|
Stephen Bishop, Valerie Carter, Arno Lucas- background vocals

The rules of the Reviled series of reviews repeated. It has to be a serious attempt at an album: no Metal Machine Music or Two Virgins. No side projects like Paul Simon’s The Capeman … or Randy Newman’s Faust. Faust probably got the strongest criticism, but it’s not a mainstream album.

Randy Newman has three careers. First songwriter, starting in the 60s (and well-documented on 2 CDs in Ace’s Songwriter series).

Then a singer-songwriter with the series of powerful albums: Randy Newman, 12 Songs, Sail Away, Good Old Boys, Little Criminals, Born Again, Trouble in Paradise, Land of Dreams, Bad Love, Harps & Angels, Dark Matter.

Then, I suspect his most lucrative career, the composer / arranger of around thirty soundtrack albums. He starts off with things like Ragtime, The Natural but hits pay dirt with the Toy Story series, A Bug’s Life, Cars, The Princess & The Frog, Monsters University.

It’s the Singer-Songwriter that concerns me here, and Born Again because it was surrounded by success before and after, but contemporary critics regarded it as a dip, and it never made the sales expectations of Newman or Warner Bros.

You’ll find it hard to persuade me of any wrong with Randy Newman. I’d rate Sail Away, Louisiana 1927, Rednecks, Birmingham, Kingfish, Short People, I Love LA, Dixie Flyer as some of the greatest songs in my collection.

A preamble: Rednecks (From Good Old Boys)

I had thoughts as I was about to start this, while listening to Rednecks on replay. Randy Newman said recently that it’s no longer appropriate to sing it on stage anymore because of its frequent use of the N-word. That’s sad, and a response to Cancel Culture and the Woke Generation that is probably necessary, but still, for me, wrong.

Are we in post-ironic times? Shakespeare’s Globe has spent lockdown discussing racism in Shakespeare. Their paymaster. They particularly explored the use of the word fair which they interpret as celebrating whiteness. Well, fair play. As theatre critic Dominic Cavendish said, let’s hope they have fair weather for their post lockdown re-opening. There seems to be a mood that cannot tell the difference between a play ABOUT racism, and a racist play. Shakespeare (and Randy Newman) put words in the mouth of a character.

Years ago, an American editor objected to one of my pieces and said, ‘You have to understand. We Americans don’t do irony.’ I said that was nonsense and pointed to Randy Newman, Gene Wilder, Woody Allen. Patently, many Americans DO do irony, but I’ll agree it’s not a national default setting, as it is in Britain. And Rednecks suffers.

I spent time discussing the lyrics on a two week book tour with a colleague from Mississippi. Newman lists all those Southern clichés, in a Southern accent:

We got no necked oilmen from Texas
And good ol’ boys from Tennessee
And colleges men from LSU
Went in dumb, come out dumb too

We were at a language school in Japan … my Mississippi friend, an editor from New York and me. I was explaining that my American English textbooks were unusual in having accents on the audio tape apart from the requisite “middle” which is called MidWestern Newsreader … we had Southern, Hispanic, African-American. A man with a Southern accent asked my editor why other publications avoided Southern accents.
‘Because they sound ignorant,’ she said without thinking.
Ouch. As I knew, the majority of the teachers in the room were from Tulane University in New Orleans.

Randy Newman knows how to score points. So you thought Newman was lampooning Southerners? Newman turns it right on its head.

Down here we’re too ignorant to realize
That the North has set the n***** free

Yes he’s free to be put in a cage
In Harlem in New York City
And he’s free to be put in a cage
On the South Side of Chicago
And the West Side
And he’s free to be put in a cage
In Hough in Cleveland
And he’s free to be put in a cage
In East St. Louis
And he’s free to be put in a cage
In Fillmore in San Francisco
And he’s free to be put in a cage
In Roxbury in Boston
They’re gatherin’ ’em up from miles around
Keepin’ the n*****s down

My Mississippi friend explained that he was at an age when bussing for desegregation meant that the races had to mix. But he added that in spite of everything and insults might fly, but they were way more used to each other and living cheek by jowl in the South than the North. He noted the ghettos in Northern cities. He gave examples of liberal campaigning New York editors, who wiped the rim of water glasses after an African-American server put them down.

I noticed this to a degree in my travels. In Chicago, New York, LA and Boston I often (by no means always) found a distancing by African-Americans in hospitality and retail situations. Polite, yes. Friendly? No. Wary? Probably. Yet in Florida, Washington D.C. (a Southern city), Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee … we often found ourselves in relaxed, friendly conversation with African-Americans. OK, maybe it was just curiosity on our English accents (Conversations often began ‘I love your accent, hon,’ said to my wife), and those accents separated us from Americans. But it felt different in the South.

Born Again

THE COVER

Timothy White asked Randy Newman where the cover concept came from:

Randy Newman: I just thought it was funny to be born again, not as a Christian, but as a money-grubbing Kiss kind of guy.It just came to me like a bad dream. My kids were fans of Kiss., but they’re fading on them now.
Sleeve notes to Guilty: 30 Years

Like the singer of The Girls In My Life, he has a picture of his ‘three cute kids’ on his desk. In Kiss make-up.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAID

Born Again was sub-Lehrer slapstick, its best song an encomium to ELO.
Dave Marsh, The New Rolling Stone Record Guide **

Born Again is more pointed. It’s Money That I Love and the straight-faced ELO parody, The Story of A Rock ‘n’ Roll Band score bulls-eyes. But They Just Got Married is somewhat condescending and Half A Man overtly homophobic.
The Rolling Stone Album Guide, *** 1/2

(The 4th Edition of The Rolling Stone Album Guide continues with *** 1/2, but hits out at Little Criminals with **. Must be a short person with no sense of irony, I guess.)

Randy Newman addresses the Me Decade in a voice that’s unremittingly snide. The album’s tone is immediately established by a cover photo in which Newman poses as a prosperous young businessman with dollar signs painted, Kiss-style, on his face. “It’s Money That I Love,” the opening cut, suggests that in these cynical times, the only thing most Americans care about is material gratification. “Used to worry about the poor/But I don’t worry anymore,” crows a narrator for whom consumption is the best revenge against ordinariness. Unfortunately, this bourgeois Caliban, like most of the people on Born Again, is just a paper tiger on which Newman hangs his contempt. Not once does he stop to suggest any reasons for contemporary grabbiness … Ultimately, (it) sounds less like a coherent song cycle than a sloppy nightclub act whipped up at the last minute.
Stephen Holden, Rolling Stone, 4 October 1979

But as with Little Criminals its highlight is a (great) joke–“The Story of a Rock and Roll Band,” which ought to be called “E.L.O.” and isn’t, for the same reason supergroupie radio programmers have shied away from it. Hence, the content comprises ever more intricate convolutions of bad taste; rather than making you think about homophobes and heavy-metal toughs and me-decade assholes the way he once made you think about rednecks and slave traders and high school belles, he makes you think about how he feels about them. Which just isn’t as interesting.
Robert Christgau, Christgau’s Guide, Rock Albums of The 70s, B +

Born Again was packed full of losers and misfits for whom Newman’s contempt was unmistakable; from a man who had found some measure of understanding in his tales of thugs, stalkers, and slave traders on previous releases, the unmistakable bile Newman summoned up on “Half a Man,” “Mr. Sheep,” and “Pretty Boy” seems little short of perverse. And while Newman indulges in his usual passion for social satire here, “They Just Got Married” and “It’s Money That I Love” are so stunningly unsubtle you have a hard time believing they came from the same man who wrote “Sail Away” or “Kingfish” 
Mark Deming, All Music

It fared poorly with both the public and the pundits, resulting in some of the worst sales to date. Nevertheless, it was reported at the time that Newman was pleased with the record and believed that it would fare well. “I was looking forward to it coming out so much that I didn’t fly any small planes before it was released,” he supposedly said after the fact. Consequently, the poor reviews only added insult to injury.
Lee Zimmerman, Rock & Rll Globe, 23 August 2019

BUT …

Born Again … is particularly disliked at 3.32, his lowest rated pop album. I’m not counting his 1995 rock opera Faust, on which he sings only three songs. The staff at AllMusic Com agree, giving Born Again two and a half stars, lower than everything but Faust … It’s a much more interesting album than its critical and popular reputation might lead one to believe. Like Good Old Boys it can be read as a loose concept album, though few if any critics seem to have noticed it: eight of its eleven songs are critiques of late 70s masculinity.
Michial Farmer, Pop Matters, 12 November 2020

(LINK TO THE ARTICLE ABOVE)

RANDY NEWMAN

Randy Newman: The mistake I made was that to do this, people have to know who you are in the first place. It’s a weird album full of peculiar songs like the one about an ELO fan getting everything wrong. It’s very idiosyncratic, with small subjects. If it had been a hit to follow it might have been different but I have always written the same way.
Martin Chilton interview, The Telegraph 2015

Randy Newman: After I did Born Again, everyone was so confident about it, about how well it would do. It was like the Titanic. They paid me lots of money like it was going to be big, and it was the first album I myself thought was going to be a success, believe it or not. But I’m not going to have hits. I don’t have the record, you can tell by now. I’ve written 150 songs and two have been hits – ‘Mama Told Me Not to Come’ and ‘Short People.’ I think it’s mainly because of the lyrics, or the voice. It’s hard to say.”
Jeff Giles interview, Classic Rock & Culure, 27 August 2015

LENNY WARONKER (producer)
If 12 Songs was a response to the orchestral nature of ‘Randy Newman’, Born Again was a response to the mainstream acceptance of Little Criminals. It’s probably the weirdest record Randy’s ever made. He’d discovered synthesizers and used them really creatively to get inventive sounds and textures.
Sleeve notes to Guilty: 30 Years

COMPILATIONS

There are no songs from Born Again on Lonely At The Top: The Best of Randy Newman (1987)

It’s Money That I Love appears on The Best of Randy Newman in 2001.

Just one song, It’s Money That I Love appears on the solo The Randy Newman Songbook Vol 1, (2003)

The full solo piano The Randy Newman Songbook set in 2016 (four x LP or three x CD) adds The Girls In My Life (Part One)

On Guilty! 30 Years of Randy Newman, a 4 CD box set, Randy Newman included four tracks: It’s Money That I Love, Ghosts, The Girls In My Life (Part One) and William Brown.

Sail Away: The songs of Randy Newman is a covers compilation. No tracks from Born Again.

TRACKS

SIDE ONE

It’s Money That I Love

This was the single from the album (with Ghosts on the B-side in the USA, Story of A Rock and Roll Band the B-side in Europe)

It’s Money That I Love: German 45, November 1979

I’ve written about money a lot. I must think it’s important.
Randy Newman: Sleeve notes to Guilty: 30 Years

Well, again, the character is unsympathetic. My heart is with the Public Radio people and the best part of the song has them “lurking in bookstores” where supposed nefarious conduct is going on. My heart’s with them, even though…I have never been accused of selling out, in any way, commercials maybe, but in general my work has been…If I’ve been trying to be commercial, I’m doing a bad job. At the same time, I am creating pop music, it’s not like I’m writing songs for the Valley Presbyterians, and you know, the record’s going out there and I’m doing interviews. So in a way I’m part of the capitalist swine I’m attacking. There are guys I knew who got 1500 on the college boards, can outspell me, were more decent and ethical fellows in some ways. They just chose a different sort of life. The trouble is, in this country, if you do, you can’t avoid getting your face rubbed in it and can’t help wondering, “Why is that little fat guy with the money with that pretty girl over there? Then you think, “It’d be nice to have an electric blanket. It would be nice to have a remote control and not have to get up from my chair.” Some people avoid thoughts like that, but they’re awful hard to avoid. So that’s what it’s about. There is more truth to that song than I would hope there would be. Money does not make you happy, but it looks pretty good, you know?
Randy Newman, A Nightmare on Main Street, Dave Zimmer, BAM, 21 October 1988.

It comes straight off the sleeve photo, the Kiss make-up with dollar signs. I always saw the richly furnished old-fashioned office as a record executive’s.

It’s the opposite of being born again:
I don’t love Jesus
He never done a thing for me …

Money can’t buy you love, but …

It’ll get you half a pound of cocaine
And a sixteen year old girl

For the un-ironic generation, it’s not about the desirability of drugs and teenage girls. The solo version years later on the Randy Newman Songbook changed it to ‘a nineteen year old girl.’ In much the same way, directors of Romeo & Juliet either delete her age (thirteen!), or change it. Social attitudes have changed, and Jeffrey Epstein’s name looms large.

It’s Money That I Love: US single, 1979

The Story of A Rock ‘n’ Roll Band

That song…what I like about it is that I got everything so wrong: mispronounced the name of the town, made up their names… And they do have these idiosyncracies about their music that are funny. It’s maybe a kind of a joke, but I wouldn’t have done it if I really hated them [ELO – Ed] like I hate some people. No matter how successful they’ve been, it’s too easy to take a shot at someone, and it’s not a shot. I’d tell ya if it were.”
Randy Newman,Standing Up For The Small Man, Paul Rambali, New Musical Express, 8 December 1979.

Jeff Lynne knew every bit of it. And what I like about that song is getting the guy’s names all wrong, you know? Giving them American names. “Bobby Joe played the big violin that stands on the floor.” So yeah, Jeff laughed at that. But you know, I’ve admired ELO’swork…they made some very fancy records.”
Randy Newman,A Nightmare on Main Street, Dave Zimmer, BAM, 21 October 1988

“The Story of a Rock and Roll Band,” a galumphing polka, sends up corporate rock by ridiculing the Electric Light Orchestra. Though the production cleverly glosses snippets of ELO’s hits, the joke quickly palls. This is the first time Newman has treated rock & roll with unequivocal snootiness.

Stephen Holden, Rolling Stone, 4 October 1979

It’s a musical send-up of glam rock with ELO’s orchestral additions, and Stephen Bishop arranged the background vocalists. There’s what I’d call an 80s guitar solo from Waddy Wachtel, but this was 1979. As Newman says, the fan actually knows very little about them except for song titles. That’s a singer-songwriter making a point.

Jeff Lynne went on to work with Randy Newman on Falling in Love (on Land of Dreams):

The Story Of A Rock And Roll Band, the track has Newman hymning the praises of ELO: I love their Mr Blue Skies/Almost my favourite is Turn To Stone/And how ’bout Telephone Line?/I love that ELO. Newman’s style being what it is, the song was widely assumed to be sarcastic. ‘Of course the press as usual said, Oh, it’s him slagging off ELO,’
Lynne agrees, ‘but I got to know Randy very well and I said, What was that about? He goes, Oh, I had a terrible trouble with that. I was going to send you a copy and see what you thought. I said, Was it a nice song or what? Was it a tribute? He says, Yeah, absolutely, I really loved them records. So there was no other side to it – he really liked it and I think he was just being silly.’
Jeff Lynne interview, origin unknown, Quoted on JeffLynnesongs.com

Pretty Boy

Are we in New York City? The words threaten the tough-guy dancing wop from Jersey City. We’re a couple of years after Saturday Night Fever, and The Wanderers movie hit the screens just a few months before the album’s release. But this is another world from the Bee Gees songs in the first, or the Four Seasons and Dion classics in the second. Musically, it’s opposite … insistent somber piano, and low slow ominous bass from Michael Boddicker’s sythesizer.

Mr Sheep

File under Semi-Detached Suburban Mr James by Manfred Mann or Well Respected Man by The Kinks. There is always something mildly disturbing about rock stars turning their ire on dull and boring nine-to-fivers. Randy Newman tries to reverse our viewpoint.

In the record’s cheapest shot, “Mr. Sheep,” a Seventies hippie lashes out at a briefcase-toting square. The moral irony is appallingly smug. We’re supposed to frown on the hippie and pity the square, but we don’t, since both characters are such ciphers that they’re impossible to care about.
Stephen Holden, Rolling Stone, 4 October 1979

Yes, but it’s a song, not Anna Karenina. Randy Newman is laughing at the superiority of singers of songs about “straights” rather than “straights.”

People say how can you take such an easy shot at a businessman with a briefcase? The clue was those haunting terrible rock and roll Nazi voices taunting the guy. Maybe I didn’t do it well. But I thought it was so obvious.
Randy Newman, BAM interview, 1982

Ghosts

a hit if ever I heard one. I don’t know what was the matter with Warner Bros – it’s a stone hit, a smash, a home run.
Randy Newman: Sleeve notes to Guilty: 30 Years

Ghosts’ was the last one. It’s about an old man who fought in World War Two and now has nothing and is a bit bitter, not absolutely likeable. He talks about colored kids, which in the States – I hear it here – but in the States you don’t call black people colored.
Randy Newman, Standing Up For The Small Man, Paul Rambali, New Musical Express, 8 December 1979.

In “Ghosts,” Born Again‘s best moment, an old man, deserted by his children and living in one room, cowers in fear and poverty. His final words are a mumbled “I’m sorry” for having lived at all. Set in Newman’s florid Stephen Foster-cum-Gustav Mahler style, “William Brown” and “Ghosts” contain the LP’s only interesting music. 
Stephen Holden, Rolling Stone, 4 October 1979

They Just Got Married

He utilises the basic blues stop and start (the Hoochie Coochie Man stop and start).

Such a sweet story as it starts, and the music accentuates it. There’s European swing and 20s Berlin feel set to blues stops. A love story, she’s real nice, a nursery school teacher, they have a baby, they’re really happy.

Then:
Anyway she dies
He moves down to Los Angeles
Meets a foolish young girl with lots of money
Now they’re getting married.

A twist in the tale with a major sting.

SIDE TWO

Spies

If you love this country
And I hope you do …

Paranoia runs deep, into your life it will creep. They’re all around us everywhere. Little mamas from Japan hanging around sailors, big fat Russians … all with sythesized spy film music.

The 2019 retrospective reviews of Born Again cite the “toxic masculinity” of the themes, and a couple point out that the album had new resonance in the era of Donald Trump. Paranoia. Kung flu. Infamy! Infamy! Everybody’s got it in for me.

The Girls In My Life (Part One)

Harmless, healthy fun for the entire family.
Randy Newman: Sleeve notes to Guilty: 30 Years

Just languid piano, bass and drums with brushes. There’s some faint reminder of a very slowed down Makin’ Whoopee.

A series of encounters, especially the girl he met in a bakery, borrowed his car, took it down to Mexico … (oh, and) ran over a man named Juan. There is no (Part two). The narrator thinks of himself as a swaggering womanizer (that Trump resonance gets stronger), but it’s all somewhat sad. So he meets a pretty young French girl in Las Vegas (sounds exciting) then we find it was when I was there with my parents. So after boasting of all these women we find he’s now married with three cute kids … as on the desk in the cover photograph. And That’s just half the story of the girls in my life …

But is it? In many ways the song begs to sit next to They Just Got Married.

Half A Man

“I meant to make fun of the idea that homosexuality is contagious. That’s what the song is about, that you can catch it from somebody, which is what maybe these idiots are afraid of and why they’re so angry at gay people.”
Randy Newman, Paul Zollo, Songwriters on Songwriting, Da Capo Press

It was a really funny song, but it scared me, you know? Propounding the theory that homosexuality is contagious. It was inspired by a story my father told me when I was about twelve. He’s a doctor, and he had this patient. He told me that this guy had never had a trace of homosexuality, nothin’, and all of a sudden he was taking a shower at the YMCA…Boom! He went down on this other guy, and the guy beat the shit out of him. He tells this to a twelve-year-old! Isn’t that something for a father to tell his kid? Holy Christ! I was just starting junior high school, having to take communal showers…And I remembered that story for 20 years.
Randy Newman, Standing Up For The Small Man, Paul Rambali, New Musical Express, 8 December 1979.

Rolling Stone thought it ‘overtly homophobic.’

So it’s about a truck driver who is offended by A big old Queen … waving his hanky at me. So he stops the truck and gets out with a tire chain and a knife. The reason the ‘trembling’ queen is half a man, is that he’d love to be a dancer but he’s much too large. Then the truck driver experiences a strange feeling (to lush synth string arrangement) and his speech becomes more refined. He has too become half a man, walking and talking like a fag. He ends with a double meaning, ‘Holy Jesus, what a drag!’

Is any mention of gay people homophobic? I thought it worth checking on YouTube for comments. Comments were turned off by YouTube. Ah.

I never got the idea that homosexuality was contagious from the song. My interpretation is that ‘queer bashers’ (the trucker) are viciously aggressive because they’re afraid of their own suppressed feelings. It also took me back to a comment by a gay friend I’ve often quoted, ‘There as many gays in the average rugby team as in the average ballet troupe. The difference is the ones in a ballet troupe know they’re gay.’

William Brown

I wanted to write something flat in which nothing happens emotionally. Now I’ve done it.
Randy Newman: Sleeve notes to Guilty: 30 Years

Yes – nothing happens . I’ll never do it again, but I wanted to write a song in which nothing happened. There’s only one slight joke, about the guy moving from North Carolina to Omaha. The idea of moving from a beautiful green state to the Platt River I like. But I shouldn’t have done even that. It’s totally flat. At least I did it once.
Randy Newman, Ragtime to Riches, Mark Leviton, BAM, 15 January 1982.

Pants

Pants’ is about these big heavy pretentious rock’n’roll acts like Kansas or Styx. I saw some big rock shows, in a baseball arena, which I’d never seen before, and I couldn’t believe whatta impersonal thing it was The artist is way up here and the crowd, they’re like sheep with arms!” He raises his arms, opens his mouth, and fawns blankly at the ceiling. Heads turn in the lobby. It was nothin’. This kind of false sexual innuendo, you know, ‘I’m gonna take off my pants! – the whole thing was a drag, and really demeaning to the audience. Who wants to put these…these…anybody on a pedestal like that
Randy Newman, Standing Up For The Small Man, Paul Rambali, New Musical Express, 8 December 1979.

Or Kiss. Ah, Doors and Jim Morrison fans, read that and weep. P.J.Proby’s splitting trousers were part of his act too.

Randy Newman: There haven’t been five tough musicians in history, and they’re doing all this posturing and snarling. And that’s fine. That’s what you do. ‘Street Fighting Man,’ ‘Under My Thumb.’ I mean, how long would it take you to get out from under Mick Jagger’s thumb?
Mojo interview, Mike Barnes, 1998.

Randy Newman: My music has a high irritation factor. You can’t put it on and eat potato chips to it and invite the neighbours over for a barbecue. It’s got ‘prick’ in it and ‘wop’ in it and ‘I’m gonna take off my pants. I entertain. But I’ve also got something to say.
Sleeve notes to Guilty: 30 Years

OVERALL

Born Again: CD version

There’s not a track on there that would feature in my Top Ten Randy Newman songs. I’ve got a playlist of thirty done a few years ago, and only The Girls In My Life (Part One) made the cut. It’s still an enjoyable album, but it doesn’t have that killer song. There’s also none I dislike nor any that go beyond my acceptance of irony. There is indeed a toxic masculinity theme underlying it, and I can sense that concept as I listen.

Three and a half stars as in later Rolling Stone assessments is about right.

THE REVILED ALBUMS ARE (so far) …

Beatles For Sale – The Beatles
Their Satanic Majesties Request … The Rolling Stones
Electric Mud– Muddy Waters
Self Portrait – Bob Dylan
Cahoots – The Band
Wild Life – Wings
Recall The Beginning: A Journey From Eden … The Steve Miller Band
Hard Nose The Highway … Van Morrison
Chicago III … Chicago
Berlin– Lou Reed
Pinups – David Bowie
Born Again – Randy Newman
Mingus – Joni Mitchell

And here’s a rule-breaker. I’d decided one album each, but Van Morrison got so much vituperation from critics (unjustly) in 2021, that I had to add it:

Latest Record Project Volume1… Van Morrison

This list will grow steadily

1 thought on “Born Again

  1. Greg Wall: My own Random Notes: “It’s Money That I Love” is certainly among Newman’s best Rock tracks, perfect arrangement and vocal. It’s also my favorite to hear Randy do solo on his songbook series.

    “Pretty Boy” seems an attempt to needle Springsteen by presenting what his work would be without sentiment. Though “Meeting Across the River” which Bruce himself seems to have never liked much, seems the obvious target.

    “William Brown” seems to me about Americans acceptance of restless mobility, it’s just stated matter of factly. By stated it as no big deal, he’s pointing out that it quite a big deal indeed.

    “Story” and “Pants” are well produced spoof songs. Same with “Half a Man” though the problem here is the obvious joke is too spelled out. “Mr. Sheep” even worse along these lines.

    “Ghosts” risks a little sentimentality for effective returns. Indeed, the empathy shown the old fart here may be the least woke thing on the album.

    The production on the record makes lower tier songs like “Spies” and especially “They Just Got Married” fun on repeated playing.

    “Girls in My Life.” Never did much for me. If Randy is indeed capitulating with the wokies to the degree you state, well, that is a little sad but seems to be the general direction of things. Might say more but as a proud kindergarten graduate I refuse to rise from my blankie and type “the n word.”

    Like

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