Old Man - Randy Newman (1972)
This is the hardest entry for me to put to screen so far in the 365. How do you choose one song that defines Randy Newman? It was easier with The Beatles. I know good and well that Rocky Raccoon isn't their best song, but it is my favorite, and its novelty has never gotten old for me. With Mr. Newman, I am at a loss. Is it " I Think It's Going To Rain Today"? What about " My Old Kentucky Home"? How about a modern day classic like " The Great Nations Of Europe", or the understated beauty of "Feels Like Home"? I finally decided it had to be off of Sail Away or Goold Old Boys, just because they are two of the best albums ever made, one a conglomeration of thoughts on humanity, the other a searing treatise on the American South (It could just as easily come from the long under-appreciated Little Criminals, but I had to make a cut somewhere!) When push came to shove it came down to two songs, one from each album. "Rednecks", while a brilliant dissection of the aforementioned specimen, is reliant on the shock of the N-word to get its point across. "Old Man" shocks with a beautiful melody and the starkest lyrics ever written on a familial passing. It works even more because he has prepared us for this moment by a positive song on the slave trade, and ends the record with God decreeing that man means nothing to him. Sail Away should be a depressing record, but it's not. Its strength lies, as it does in "Old Man", with its ability to make us see the worst in us, which in turn brings out an appreciation of the best. Randy doesn't have to touch on the good side. He will get us there through exposure of the bad.
Whew, that was hard!
I better stop before I change my mind.
Here's a delightful cover by your favorite and mine...Art Garfunkel!!!!!