There is no voice quite like Randy Newman’s. It’s rubbery, cartoonish, welcoming, and warm.
He’s the soundtrack to the great film, Toy Story, among many others. He’s likely your favorite songwriter’s favorite songwriter.
On the piano, Randy Newman makes lyrics come to life. He’s an exquisite artist rapped in a jokester’s appearance. His wordplay is unlike any other, as you can see from the tracks “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” and “Short People” (below).
But what does the 78-year-old Los Angeles-born, New Orleans-raised musician have to say about life, love, his craft, and the world at large outside of his popular, idiosyncratic songs?
That’s what we’ll dive into here today. So, without further ado, here are the best 25 Randy Newman quotes.
1. “Thank God for the potholes on memory lane.”
2. “If you’re doing something, show up every day, and something good might happen—it’s not going to happen if you don’t show up.”
3. “I’ve written a song for Prince. I never showed it to Prince, but just to see if I could do it. At the time, when I sort of knew him, he was recording a song a day. I wondered if I could do that. So I wrote it.”
4. “I am not overlooking any mail. I’m looking at all of it. I even wrote back to the Viagra people.”
5. “‘Rednecks’ always made me nervous to play, but I’m glad I wrote it and I continue to play it. It’s just that the language is so rough.”
6. “I like the idea of taking a true classic written by a true genius and destroying it essentially! I like the idea of bringing it down to earth a bit—and even a bit lower than that.”
7. “I think the tax cut is ridiculous but so am I.”
8. “I started recording because I was always complaining about the records that I was getting of my songs. At least if I did them and messed them up, I wouldn’t have anyone else to blame.”
9. “It’s very hard to get rich and famous at a young age and handle it well.”
10. “I don’t remember ever having writer’s block. If I sit in there for four hours, I’ll usually have something.”
11. “What I’m most pleased about is that there’s no particular decline. The songs I wrote 40 years ago are no worse and no better—there’s a consistency.”
12. “I like Public Enemy a great deal.”
13. “I like science—geography, meteorology, cosmology.”
14. “Stay away from drugs. They’re not worth it. I’ve tried, but there’s none of them that’s worth it.”
15. “It’s funny; people get so doctrinaire about music. It should be the last thing you don’t have an open mind about.
16. “Learn about the world, the way it works, any kind of science and anthropology, it’s really an interesting place we live in. Evolution is a really fantastic idea, even more than the idea of God I think.”
17. “Most of my songs are about insensitivity of some kind.
18. “If we’d had another carefree 70’s, I’d have been dead. It was a little too carefree, you know? I don’t know how carefree they were for me, I think I was worried then, I can’t remember what about.”
19. “I once had dinner with Madonna and I wasn’t nervous but within about a minute I found myself talking about underwear.”
20. “My music has a high irritation factor. I’ve always tried to say something. Eccentric lyrics about eccentric people. Often it was a joke. But I would plead guilty on the grounds that I prefer eccentricity to the bland.”
21. “I like the performing. And interviews, even. And the stuff that’s not sitting in a room by yourself with empty paper. But I never loved writing, to tell you the truth.”
22. “But I don’t want to sing everything out of the side of my mouth, I want people to understand what I mean.”
23. “I’ve always had a lot of respect from the people I respected.”
24. “I’ve worked with a band, and it’s nice to have someone to travel around with, but I didn’t like it as well on stage.”
25. “Mostly, I don’t write overtly personal stuff.”
(Photo by Hiroyuki Ito/Getty Images)