Randy Newman - song writer and film composer

Randy Newman - photo Randy Newman is a member of the Newman clan, being related to the Alfred Newman, Lionel Newman, David Newman and Thomas Newman. As a song writer (see his "Land of Dreams" album and numerous songs performed by leading singers) he followed the example set by his father, Irving, who was a doctor by profession but composed songs also. But he was clearly also influenced by his uncles, Alfred, Lionel and Emil who were all heavily involved in the writing and production of music for the film industry. As a film composer, he has scored high profile movies including "Ragtime", "Maverick" and the three "Toy Story" movies. The two streams to his career frequently come together because he often writes one or more songs for those films he scores, including things like "Parenthood" and "Toy Story". Conversely he has written many stand-alone songs which have also been included in films, such as his song "You Can Leave Your Hat On" which was used in the movie "The Full Monty". With such a broad grounding in the industry it was only a matter of time before Newman was on the receiving end of a major award. In the 2002 Academy Awards, he was nominated for the 9th time in the best score category for "Mosters, Inc." losing out to Howard Shore's "The Fellowship of the Ring", but won the best song category for the song "If I Didn't Have You" used in "Monsters, Inc.".

Randy Newman - Monsters Inc. soundtrack CD cover His style as a film composer is generally quite light, perhaps due in part to the significant number of family, comedy and children's titles he has done. Many of these have old-time themes using ragtime and swing jazz sounds for which Newman has an easy affinity. More recent soundtracks have ventured a little towards adult territory with "The Paper" and "Pleasantville", but rarely wandering too far (as yet) from the pleasant, family, light comedy world. Nevertheless he can display considerable skill in a variety of styles. "A Bug's Life" for example, though an animated family movie (albeit an excepionally well executed one), features Western-style music for the Ant's home field, Jazz for the City, some Circus Music and some threatening music for the Grasshoppers.

Randy Newman - Ragtime CD cover One of Newman's first film scores was for the movie "Ragtime". Except in a few short places the music itself is not strictly Ragtime but uses a variety of period music styles from late 19th century music hall through to early Jazz. Solo piano (played by Randy Newman himself) features prominently and gives a suggestion of ragtime, and the main theme has an ability to wrap around endlessly as its final chord seems to demand another iteration. A single genuinely period song "I could love a million girls" was arranged by Newman and sung by Donald O'Connor. The overall effect is both period authenticity and melancholy, and demonstrates Newman's mastery of these forms.

The Randy Newman Songbook Vol.2 - album CD cover It's worth noting at this point that Newman has another life as a songwriter and has released a number of albums of his songs. These tend to be much more political or satirical than his family-oriented film music. One of his earlier songs is "You can Leave your Hat on" from the album "Sail Away" released in 1972. The singer Joe Cocker made the song popular and it was covered by Tom Jones whose version was used in the film "The Full Monty". He also wrote songs for other leading artists including "Mama Told Me Not to Come" for Eric Burdon which has also been covered by Tom Jones. Several albums later, Newman released "Harps and Angels" in 2008 and a number of his existing songs were used to create a musical of the same name.

2010 was a significant years for Newman with the release of Toy Story 3, the premiere of "Harps and Angels" in November 2010, and he also received a Star on Hollywood Boulevard. In May 2011 Newman was in the UK for a while and appeared on a number of TV shows promoting his new album "The Randy Newman Songbook vol 2". One of the chat shows he appeared on was "The One Show" where he was immortalised in this sand sculpture. Since then we have also seen the release of "Monsters University", sequel to "Monsters, Inc.".

Randy Newman's son, Amos Newman also works in the industry, heading up the composer division of a large talent agency in Hollywood focusing on music for film, television, games, online and mobile.

Films by Randy Newman:

    Randy Newman - Toy Story soundtrack CD cover
  • Ragtime - considered to be one of his best scores
  • The Natural
  • The Three Amigos - the film was scored by Elmer Bernstein with Newman providing the songs and the voice of the "Singing Bush" (electronically altered)
  • Avalon
  • Parenthood - including a song
  • Awakenings
  • The Three Amigos - including some songs
  • Maverick - the movie version of the TV original
  • Toy Story 1, 2 - including the song "You've Got a Friend in Me" in the original
  • Michael - plus song "Feels Like Home"
  • James and the Giant Peach - the cinema trailer for this used music from Danny Elfman's The Nightmare before Christmas
  • The Paper
  • Randy Newman: The Monsters Collection - sheet music book cover
  • Meet the Parents
  • Babe, Pig in the City - the song "That'll Do"
  • The Full Monty - the song "You Can Leave Your Hat On" sung by Tom Jones
  • A Bug's Life - plus song "The Time of your Life"
  • Pleasantville - amid a number of songs, Newman's music is pleasantly uplifting with hints of the 50s sitcom setting
  • Seabiscuit - some very moving music for this film about a racehorse
  • Meet the Fockers - sequel to "Meet the Parents"
  • Monster's Inc. - with song "If I Didn't Have You"
  • Cars - including the song "Our Town"
  • Leatherheads - Randy Newman has a cameo part as the Piano Player
  • The Princess and the Frog - Newman wrote the songs and score and he did the voice for "Cousin Randy"; set in New Orleans the music has lots of jazz plus some bluegrass and gospel
  • Toy Story 3 - the soundtrack has a Spanish version of "You've Got a Friend in Me" performed by the Gipsy Kings
  • Monsters University - sequel to "Monsters, Inc."
  • Cars 3 - returning to Cars after Michael Giacchino did Cars 2
  • Toy Story 4
  • Marriage Story - an old school romantic score from Newman

TV Music by Randy Newman:

  • Monk (Mr. Monk) - Newman wrote the title song "It's a Jungle Out There"

Randy Newman - Recommendations:

For soundtrack recommendations, the following cover a broad range of acclaimed work by Randy Newman:

Sheet Music Plus has a good selection of Sheet Music by Randy Newman including some song collections, the Randy Newman Anthology and The Best of Randy Newman. However, just released is the title "The Monsters Collection" which contains piano arrangements of 15 songs from the animations "Monsters, Inc." and sequel "Monsters University". This is available at both The Music Room and Sheet Music Plus (see book cover above).

There is a fan web-site dedicated to Randy Newman at www.RandyNewman.com.

Randy Newman - Memorabilia:

Here are some CD covers signed by Randy Newman. Our thanks to Petr Kocanda for permission to use his collection of autographed CDs. Click any thumbnail below to see the image full size in a separate window.

Randy Newman: The Natural - signed CD Randy Newman: Pleasantville - signed CD Randy Newman: Awakenings - signed CD