I tracked down an audience recording of the two new Randy Newman songs I mentioned in my last post. These are from his Oct. 14, 2006, concert at Convocation Centre in Toronto. Some audience noise (nearby people laughing and breathing) is audible, but the sound quality’s decent enough to hear the songs.
The political song is essentially one of Newman’s monologues, with just hints of melody and piano noodling underneath. This isn’t a classic in the same league as “Political Science,” but it’s still vintage Newman and a timely song. At least a few of the words were different in the Chicago performance, when he mentioned the color coding of terror alerts. When he introduces the song to the Toronto crowd, he notes that it isn’t finished, so we may hear some other lyrics when this finally surfaces on a studio album.
Here’s my transcription of the lyrics from the Toronto performance.
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A FEW WORDS IN DEFENSE OF MY COUNTRY
By Randy Newman
I’d like to say a few words in defense of my country
Whose people aren’t bad nor are they mean
Now, the leaders we have, while they’re the worst that we’ve had,
Are hardly the worst this poor world has ever seen.
Let’s turn history’s pages, shall we?
Think of Caesars, for example.
Well, the first few of them, they were sleeping with their sisters,
Stashing little boys in swimming pools, burning down the city.
One of them, he appointed his own horse to be counselor of the empire.
That’s like vice president — well, wait, that’s not a very good example.
But here’s a good one, the Spanish Inquisition,
Putting people in terrible position.
I don’t even like to think about it.
Well, sometimes I like to think about it.
Just a few words in defense of my country
Whose time at the top may be coming to an end.
Oh, we don’t want your love
And I guess respect is out of the question at this point.
At times like these, we could sure use a friend.
Hitler, Stalin — men who need no introduction. Much worse.
King Leopold of Belgium. That’s right, everyone thinks he’s so great.
Well, he owned the Congo, you know, and he tore it up, too.
It was the Switzerland of Africa.
He took the diamond, he took the gold, he took the silver.
You know what he left it with? Malaria.
You know, a president once said,
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself
Now it seems like we’re supposed to be afraid. It’s patriotic, in fact.
Afraid of what? Why, afraid of being afraid.
That’s what terror means, isn’t it?
You know, “House of Wax,” stuff like that.
Not anymore it doesn’t.
You know, it pisses me off a little when I think that this Supreme Court’s going to outlive me.
A couple of young Italian fellas and a brother on the court now, too.
But I defy you, anywhere in the world, to found two Italians like the two Italians we got.
And as for the brother, well, Pluto’s not a planet anymore, either.
The end of an empire is messy at best
And this here empire’s ending just like all the rest.
Like the Spanish Armada, adrift on the sea,
We’re adrift in the land of the brave and the home of the free.
Good-bye, Good-bye, Good-bye.