Randy Newman Is Back, Lambasting Vladimir Putin As Only Randy Newman Can Do



Randy Newman is one of America’s greatest living satirists who somehow managed to carve out his own off-beat niche in the Pantheon of Rock. His 1974 song “Rednecks” still packs a punch today, a brilliant piece of satire that skewers both racism and those who are complacent about racism. The controversy over his 1977 hit “Short People” amounted to performance art allowing Newman to make his point even more convincingly. And I don’t know if they still play 1983’s “I Love L.A.” at Laker games, but it’s still funny as hell that Angelenos ever ignored the song’s satirical intent.

But it seems as though Randy Newman is one of those you-had-to-be-there artists whose talent doesn’t translate well among newer generations of Rock fans. Thanks to Family Guy Newman has become a bit of a punchline himself, and there’s all kinds of caricatures out there that start to seem mean-spirited. What the haters don’t get is that Newman’s corny delivery is part of the joke that they are not getting. Too bad for them.

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So I was thrilled to hear that Randy Newman has an album coming out this week, his first album of new original material in ten years. The first single was actually released last October, but this guy is so far under the radar these days that I just heard about it in the context of the album release. The song is called “Putin”, and the irony is that Newman thought the song might have more relevance last October, so he rushed it out. Little did he know that the Russian Strongman would gain relevance with each passing day.

But at least we can all agree that Vladimir Putin is a public figure who deserves to be taken down a few notches. Newman really gives it to him in a very funny and rambling, call-and-answer Greek chorus rant that comes across like a boogie-woogie opera with sharp teeth. Great to see Randy Newman has still got the juices going. And the early reviews are suggesting the new album Dark Matter is similarly solid throughout. But be warned: if you didn’t “get” him before, you’re not likely to “get” him now.

 

“Putin”
Putin puttin’ his pants on
One leg at a time
You mean he’s just like a regular fella, huh?
He ain’t nothing like a regular fella

Putin puttin’ his hat on
Hat size number nine
“You sayin’ Putin’s gettin’ big headed?”
Putin’s head’s just fine

He can drive his giant tractor
Across the Trans-Siberian plain
He can power a nuclear reactor
With the left side of his brain
And when he takes his shirt off
He drives the ladies crazy
When he takes his shirt off
Makes me wanna be a lady
It’s the Putin Girls!

[Putin Girls:]
Putin if you put it when you
Put it where you put it
Putin if you put it
Will you put it next to me?
Putin if you put it when you
Put it where you put it
Putin if you put it
Will you put it next to me?

Now Putin hates the Putin girls
‘Cause he hates vulgarity
And he loves his mother country
And he loves his family

He and his ex-wife Lyudmila
Are riding along the shore
Of the beautiful new Russian Black Sea
Let’s listen in
A great man is speaking

We fought a war for this?
I’m almost ashamed
The Mediterranean
Now there’s a resort worth fighting for
If only the Greeks or the Turks
Would start to sniff around
I’d bring the hammer down
So quick their woolly heads would spin
Woolly head, woolly head, woolly head

Or, wait a minute
Even better
What if the Kurds got in the way?
Hey! Kurds and way, curds and whey!

Sometimes a people is greater than their leader
Germany, Kentucky, France
Sometimes a leader towers over his country
One shot at glory, they don’t get a second chance
I dragged these peasants kicking and screaming
Into the 21st century
I thought they’d make it
I must have been dreaming
These chicken farmers and file clerks gonna be the death of me

I can’t do it
[PG:] Sure, you can
I can’t do it
[PG:] Yeah, you can
What makes you say that girls?
[PG:] Tell you why. ‘Cause you’re the Putin man
Who whipped Napoleon?
[PG:] We did!
Who won World War II?
[PG:] The Americans!
That’s a good one ladies
It’s our turn to sit in the comfy chair
[PG:] And you’re the man gonna get us there!

I don’t know, Lenin couldn’t do it
I don’t know, Stalin couldn’t do it
They couldn’t do it
Why you think I can?
[PG:] You’re gonna lead our people to the Promised Land
You’re right, ’cause, Goddamn, I’m the Putin Man

Photo credit: By Protest Photos 1 on Flickr [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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