ARTIST: Randy Newman
TITLE: Sail Away
YEAR RELEASED: 1972
CHART ACTION: #163
SINGLES: Sail Away
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Political Science, You Can Leave Your Hat On, God’s Son, Lonely at the Top, Burn On
LINEUP: Randy Newman, Ry Cooder, Russ Titelman, session bassists and drummers (the best LA had in 1971)
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A full album of Newman’s sardonic, wry observations about society past and present (for 1972). It sounds like his Pixar stuff, except its biting.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Songs about the slave trade, nuclear war, God’s reaction to the state of the world, that time a river caught on fire, love, family a song about celebrity written for Frank Sinatra, and sex. That’s a full plate for any songwriter in his career, and this is just one album from Newman.
He was really hitting his stride. Some of these songs had been recorded by others, but Newman’s own interpretations here give them more poignancy. You listen to this record, and you think, “I’ve heard this,” and you probably have. Even then, Newman’s songs were used for movies because they fit so well. The best known song, “You Can Leave Your Hat On” was kind of an afterthought until Joe Cocker recorded it in 1986. Then, it was put in 9 ½ weeks, and well, now everyone knows the darn thing!
The title cut is about a slave trader trying to attract Africans to come to America. The closer is God talking about how he loves us because he does all of these shitty things to us and we still love him back. In between, there’s a whole gamut of topics, all narrated by Newman in his nasal, breathy tone.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Frank Sinatra never recorded “Lonely at the Top”, unfortunately.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, some demos for the album.
GRADE: A+: I can’t speak ill of any track here. Not a one.