Podcasts | Political Beats

Episode 58: Matt Murray / Randy Newman

Randy Newman’s Sail Away

Scot and Jeff discuss Randy Newman with Matt Murray.

Introducing the Band:

Your hosts Scot Bertram (@ScotBertram) and Jeff Blehar (@EsotericCD) with guest Matt Murray. Matt is editor in chief of the Wall Street Journal and is the author of the book The Father And The Son: My Father’s Journey Into Monastic Life.  Matt is on Twitter at @murraymatt.

Matt’s Musical Pick: Randy Newman

It’s lonely at the top when you’re one of America’s greatest modern songwriters, but the case of Randy Newman is an even stranger one than most: a professional songwriter since 1962, a celebrated solo artist since 1968, and one of Hollywood’s go-to men for movie soundtracks (including, yes, all those Pixar movies) since 1981, Newman is still arguably hugely underappreciated by the public at large. We suppose that’s inevitable when you sing like a bullfrog and your greatest commercial success was a quasi-novelty song about loathing diminutive folk, but Matt, Jeff and Scot are at great pains on today’s episode to explain why Randy Newman is in fact one of the most profound (profoundly acerbic, profoundly cynical, profoundly hilarious, profoundly moving, you name it) artists of the modern popular era. From the halting orchestral experiments of his youth to the deep exploration of the dark weird corners of America during his prime to the scabrous wit of his political and social commentary, Newman is one of the most truly American musicians of the past fifty years, and his musical legacy reveals truths both uncomfortable and undeniable about our national psyche. Dive on in with us — and you can leave your hat on.

Most Popular


In Defense of Coleman Hughes

Picture the scene: A young man walks into a congressional hearing to offer witness testimony. His grandfather was barbarically brutalized by people who are now long dead. The nation in which he resides built its wealth of his grandfather’s brutalization. The question: Should his fellow citizens pay the young ... Read More
Film & TV

Toy Story 4: A National Anthem

The Toy Story franchise is the closest thing we have to an undisputed national anthem, a popular belief that celebrates what we think we all stand for — cooperation, ingenuity, and simple values, such as perpetual hope. This fact of our infantile, desensitized culture became apparent back in 2010 when I took a ... Read More

College Leaders Should Learn from Oberlin

Thanks to their social-justice warrior mindset, the leaders of Oberlin College have caused an Ohio jury to hit it with $44 million in compensatory and punitive damages in a case where the school couldn't resist the urge to side with its “woke” students against a local business. College leaders should learn ... Read More

Joe and the Segs

Joe Biden has stepped in it, good and deep. Biden, if he has any hope of ever being elected president, will be dependent on residual goodwill among African Americans from his time as Barack Obama’s loyal and deferential vice president — so deferential, in fact, that he stood aside for Herself in 2016 even ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Madcap Caution of Donald Trump

The worry last week was that the Trump administration was ginning up fake intelligence about Iran blowing up oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz to justify a war against Iran. Then, this week, President Donald Trump said the Iranian attacks weren’t a big deal. The episode is another indication of the ... Read More
Film & TV

Fosse/Verdon and the Dismal #MeToo Obsession

In the final episode of Fosse/Verdon, one of the two titular characters, Bob Fosse, is shooting one of the greatest films of all time. The other, Gwen Verdon, is having a quarrel with her unspeakably dull boyfriend about whether he approves of her performing in a road-show production of a Broadway musical. These ... Read More