His mastery of satire and irony, combined with his use of metaphors, is unrivaled by anyone, including Bob Dylan and Tom Waits.
SIDENOTE ALERT: If you follow this blog at all, you know I’m a man of many contradictions. Allow me to set the record straight. Yes, I loved my mission to Colombia; it was like having a front row seat to see and experience shit most Americans will never see nor experience in their lives. Also I’m a 30-year (of my 50 years) inactive, irreverent, profane Jack-Mormon who loves to laugh, drinks whiskey and chews tobacco, and from time to time I have “experimented” with other substances (wink, wink, nod, nod).
Newman’s 2nd, 4th and 5th albums—12 Songs, Sail Away and Good Old Boys are all masterpieces. Which one of these albums I think is best depends on the day and my mood at that moment.
The song “Political Science” from Sail Away is about how we should nuke the entire world (they hate us anyway), except Australia, because Newman doesn’t want to hurt any kangaroos. Instead, we’ll just make it into a great big amusement park.
His song “Rednecks” from Good Old Boys garnered him death threats from both white trash and black people (it takes a lot of skill, my friends, to piss almost everyone off).
“Sail Away” is about trying to convince African people to get on the slave ships and sail away, since life would be oh so much better for them in the United States.
But you also need to own Newman’s Greatest Hits, because his later, weaker albums have some gems, like the beautiful ballad “Dixie Flyer” from the album Land of Dreams. What a beautiful use of the piano.
Give Newman a shot. I think you’ll like what you hear.