Top 10 Randy Newman Songs

Randy Newman Songs

Photo: Hans van Dijk (ANEFO) [CC0]

When we think of the term professional songwriter, names such as Carole King, Burt Bacharach, George Gershwin, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lennon and McCartney and a few other legends come to mind. When we think in terms of the professional songwriter with a sarcastic attitude and great sense of humor names like Frank Zappa, and Donald Fagen and Walter Becker come to mind. Think of a professional songwriter with a sarcastic attitude, great sense of humor and a penchant for composing big time Hollywood Soundtracks scores and hits, no other name but Randy Newman shines so brightly.

Our top 10 Randy Newman songs list takes a look at ten essential compositions and recordings created by one of the most prolific songwriters in popular music. There have been so many great Randy Newman songs released over the past 40 years that it’s almost impossible to just choose 10. We almost decided to do two separate lists singling out the Randy Newman songs composed for film and those just released on his solo albums. We also could have done a third list presenting all the Randy Newman songs written for other artists or at least recorded by other artists such as Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers, Bonnie Raitt, Harry Nilsson, Three Dog Night, Dusty Springfield and so on. In the end, we decided to go with a top 10 essential Randy Newman songs list. It’s more fun to be forced to choose only 10, and it usually ticks off a lot of readers, especially those who are big-time fans of the artist we are covering.

Randy Newman has released 11 solo albums throughout his career. His first album was released in 1968 entitled Randy Newman. His most recent album as of this writing in 2019 was released two years ago in 2017 and entitled Dark Matter. In between solo albums, Randy Newman has scored the music for twenty-eight Hollywood films. Newman’s first film score was released in 1970 for a film entitled Performance. Randy Newman’s most recent score was released in 2019 for the motion picture Marriage Story.

Before we embark on our top 10 Randy Newman songs list we should also mention that his incredible prolific songwriting has won a sea of awards for his songwriting and scoring abilities. In the major league categories such as those presented by the  Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Randy Newman has been nominated for twenty Academy Awards throughout his life. Out of those twenty nominations, Randy Newman took home the award in 2002 for the song “If I Didn’t Have You” and in 2011 for the song  “We Belong Together.”

Randy Newman has also been nominated for sixteen Grammy Awards while taking home the Grammy six times. The Golden Globe Awards awards came calling for Randy Newman nominating him six times. Randy Newman’s success in scoring music for all those legendary animated films such as Toy Story, Monsters, Inc and Cats Don’t Dance earned him four Annie Awards.

With all these music and film awards, an abundance of television and film soundtracks, plus elven brilliant studio albums, Randy Newman has left behind an amazing legacy of music. We hope our written introduction to the world of Randy Newman and this small sampling of Randy Newman songs entices you to explore the wonderful world of Randy Newman.

# 10 – Short People

We open up our Top 10 Randy Newman songs list with one of the artists most popular songs. This one was a big hit in the 1970s and boy did it tick off a lot of people. It’s the perfect song to introduce people of all heights to the sense of humour of Randy Newman. The song “Short People,” was released in 1977. The song reached all the way to number two on the Billboard Hot 100.

# 9 – It’s Money That Matters

Continuing in the tradition of songs like “Short People,” and “I Love L.A.” Randy Newman’s sarcastic sense of humour is on full display in the great song “It’s Money That Matters.” The song was released in 1988 on the album Land Of Dreams. The song also featured the guitar work of legendary guitarist, Dire Straits Mark Knopfler.

# 8 – A Few Words in Defense of Our Country

The wit of Randy Newman is in full display in this great song “A Few Words in Defense of Our Country.” The song was released on the Harps and Angels album. The record was released in 2008. It is widely hailed as one of the greatest albums of the 21st century.

# 7 – Louisiana 1927

This classic Randy Newman song goes all the way back to 1974 when it was released on Randy Newman’s Good Old Boys album. The song was written about the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. The song opens up with a beautiful string line that sounds like it could have been perfectly placed in a 1960s Western movie. It sounds like it would have also fit very nicely on Billy Joel’s Street Life Serenade album.

# 6 – Sail Away

In a similar fashion to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born In The U.S.A.” Randy Newman’s song “Sail Away,” was widely misunderstood. “Sail Away,” was a brilliant sarcastic statement about the horrors of slavery. The song was released on The Sail Away album in 1972. This one starts out right way with Randy Newman’s passionate vocal surrounded by a lush string line. One of our all-time favorite Randy Newman songs and easily one of his most popular recordings.

# 5 – You Got A Friend In Me

Every kid around the globe knows this one. The classic theme song from the original Toy Story animated film. The piano introduction is just so addicting in a very Elton John like sense. The song’s wonderful lyrics and melody fit so perfectly to the animated film that has become one of the most loved kids’ films ever released.

# 4 – Feels Like Home

This beautiful song written by Randy Newman was given the Bonnie Raitt treatment when she recorded it for Randy Newman’s Faust soundtrack. Randy Newman’s original version was released on his Harps And Angels album. This one is a real stunner and defines just how brilliant of a songwriter Randy Newman has always been.

# 3 – I Love L.A.

“I Love L.A.” stands as one of the most popular Randy Newman songs in the artist’s catalog. The great video featured here only added to the song’s wit and humor. “I Love L.A. was released in 1983 on the album Trouble In Paradise. The song never made it onto the Billboard Top 100. However, it got heavy rotation on MTV which helped fuel the song’s popularity.

# 2 – Mama Told Me Not To Come

Most music fans who grew up in the 1970s know this one from Three Dog Night’s classic version. Nonetheless, check out Randy Newman’s own version released on the album 12 Songs. Randy Newman’s original version is much faster and more straightforward than Three Dog Night’s slow funky version. There is enough room in this world for both versions. Don’t you think?

# 1 – She Choose Me

This beautiful Randy Newman song “She Choose Me,” closes out our top 10 Randy Newman songs list because it’s one of the most heartfelt and sincere songs we have ever heard. The song was released on Randy Newman’s album Dark Matter. The record was released in 2017.

Top 10 Randy Newman Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022

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  1. Avatar John Tabacco November 11, 2019

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