Randy Newman: Louisiana 1927
Randy Newman (piano, vocals)
Our New Orleans 2005 (Nonesuch 79934)
Randy Newman (piano, vocals),
with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and members of the New York Philharmonic.
Composed by Randy Newman.
Recorded: New York, October 27-28, 2005
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
I was a teenager when Randy Newman first released this song on his "Southern" theme album Good Old Boys, and I remember traveling to the Troubadour on Santa Monica Boulevard to hear him play the songs from this controversial new record. Newman was a fringe figure back then, and traveled without a band, accompanying himself on solo piano in small clubs; and this concept LP was not likely to expand his audience—only a brave deejay would dare spin its most high profile song "Rednecks." Things have loosened up since then, but I think it would be even harder to get airplay with this particular tune nowadays. But amid the irony and sarcasm (this composer's trademarks) were some heartfelt songs that I enjoyed even more, namely "Marie" and Louisiana 1927," profound meditations that made you think that Newman had some sympathy for these very same rednecks.
Of course, Randy Newman would have good reason to feel some sympathy with folks from Louisiana. He spent much of his childhood in New Orleans, and a dose of that city's musical personality even rubbed off on him—and can occasionally be heard in his work. Hurricane Katrina added new poignancy to this song about a Louisiana flood during the Coolidge administration, and here Newman offers a moving rendition at a benefit concert in Avery Fisher Hall. Yes, he may love L.A., but he clearly has a soft spot for that other LA too.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia