Oscar-winning wit comes to Breck | SummitDaily.com
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Oscar-winning wit comes to Breck

Kimberly Nicoletti

BRECKENRIDGE – Randy Newman hit the charts for decades with outrageous, satirical songs such as “Short People,” but he never won an Oscar until he broke his own rules about songwriting and filled 90 percent of a song with messages of love.

Last March, Newman won an Oscar for his tune “If I Didn’t Have You” from Disney and Pixar’s “Monsters, Inc.” after 16 previous nominations that didn’t net a statuette.

Before Disney, Newman avoided writing about love, bored with the constant sentiment found in music.

“I was reading great authors (when I started writing), and even “Sports Illustrated’ is more varied than the traditional lyrics of a love song,” Newman said in an interview by Dream Works Records. “I was much more interested in character, slightly aberrant behavior.”

Newman speaks to contemporary issues with the wit of Mark Twain and the satire of Jonathan Swift.

“He continues to put out contemporary music that speaks a lot and does it with that dry wit,” said Jeff Baum, executive director of the Breckenridge Music Festival. “He addresses a lot of social issues and does it in his way that kind of makes you go, “huh?'”

The surprise arises from his contrasting melodies and messages.

“I think there is a dichotomy between my literary sensibility and my music sensibility,” Newman said. “Obviously, I’m not afraid of a certain amount of romanticism, musically. Lyrically, it’s another story. And on a more conscious level, I realize I have to make the uglier observations easy to swallow. If I made the music all spikey – or whatever the opposite of “real pretty’ would be – people wouldn’t hear what I’m saying. As far as my intent, well, I’m not Mary Sunshine. And I’m not particularly optimistic about a lot of things. But what has been taken as nastiness in some of my songs isn’t really descriptive of anything, or anyone – it’s exaggeration for the sake of satire. I really don’t think people are that bad. I know they’re not.”

Newman began showing the more loving side of human beings when he began composing for Disney. He also has composed scores for “The Natural,” “Parenthood,” “Toy Story” – I and II – “Pleasantville” and “A Bug’s Life.”

“Those Disney songs allow me to break the hidden rules I’ve set for myself,” Newman said in an interview with The Denver Post. “I don’t say “I love you’ hardly at all in my songs, and that’s what 90 percent of the song literature is about. The Disney stuff allows me to be direct and kind of friendly.”

Though Newman plays fewer than 15 concerts per year, Baum was able to secure him for his first appearance in Summit County.

Tickets are $39 for adults, $34 for juniors in advance; $42 adults, $37 juniors day of the show, and may be purchased by calling (970) 547-3100.

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.

Randy Newman

– When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20

– Where: Riverwalk Center, Breckenridge


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