I was just out of high school when I bought my first Randy Newman album. It was 12 Songs, his second album from 1970, and it was an important moment for me. I picked it up in Moorhead, MN, at a used CD store on Main Ave. whose name escapes me; frustrating considering how many hours I spent in there flipping through jewel cases, looking for a gem.
This was one of them. It was the album cover (photographed by Tony Newman and looking a great deal like the visual work of both William Eggleston and Jandek, neither of whom were yet on my radar) that first spoke to me. Like an old postcard affixed to the bathroom doorway of a diner, it just reeked of a very particular kind of mid-century Americana for which I longed and with which I was just beginning to obsess myself. I devoured the Beats, Dylan, Tom Waits, John Fante, The Last Picture Show, Hud and contemporary songwriters like Jack Logan and Vic Chesnutt. I was a lyrics man at that time and Newman delivered. The imagery was so striking:
Let’s burn down the cornfield

Let’s burn down the cornfield 

And I’ll make love to you while it’s burning.

Heavy tackle for a boy of 19 wanting nothing more than to feel like a man. And the characters from whose perspective he wrote his songs were all so colorful and skewed. They’d have nothing but bit parts in most people’s songs or plays, but on Newman’s stage, they were stars. They were the folks you wanted to hang out with and get to know. Misfits reigned in his world, and it emitted a sense of authenticity that struck all the right chords for me. It actually took me years to actually be able to appreciate the actual musical elements of 12 Songs. At the time I loved these songs despite the seemingly flippant music and oft-kilter voice, embracing instead the lost era concept and appreciating the stories and the bare unadorned nature in which they were presented above all. It seemed a bit crazy to me that someone got paid to make an album like this, and I still had no frame of reference for the fact that he would actually become quite successful a few years later. While I’d eventually grow to appreciate Sail Away as his true masterwork, that initial impression that 12 Songs made on me would was significant enough that I consider it my favorite Randy Newman album, the one that will continue to have the most conjuring power over me through the years as I surely turn to dust.

I was just out of high school when I bought my first Randy Newman album. It was 12 Songs, his second album from 1970, and it was an important moment for me. I picked it up in Moorhead, MN, at a used CD store on Main Ave. whose name escapes me; frustrating considering how many hours I spent in there flipping through jewel cases, looking for a gem.

This was one of them. It was the album cover (photographed by Tony Newman and looking a great deal like the visual work of both William Eggleston and Jandek, neither of whom were yet on my radar) that first spoke to me. Like an old postcard affixed to the bathroom doorway of a diner, it just reeked of a very particular kind of mid-century Americana for which I longed and with which I was just beginning to obsess myself. I devoured the Beats, Dylan, Tom Waits, John Fante, The Last Picture Show, Hud and contemporary songwriters like Jack Logan and Vic Chesnutt. I was a lyrics man at that time and Newman delivered. The imagery was so striking:

Let’s burn down the cornfield

Let’s burn down the cornfield 

And I’ll make love to you while it’s burning.

Heavy tackle for a boy of 19 wanting nothing more than to feel like a man. And the characters from whose perspective he wrote his songs were all so colorful and skewed. They’d have nothing but bit parts in most people’s songs or plays, but on Newman’s stage, they were stars. They were the folks you wanted to hang out with and get to know. Misfits reigned in his world, and it emitted a sense of authenticity that struck all the right chords for me. It actually took me years to actually be able to appreciate the actual musical elements of 12 Songs. At the time I loved these songs despite the seemingly flippant music and oft-kilter voice, embracing instead the lost era concept and appreciating the stories and the bare unadorned nature in which they were presented above all. It seemed a bit crazy to me that someone got paid to make an album like this, and I still had no frame of reference for the fact that he would actually become quite successful a few years later. While I’d eventually grow to appreciate Sail Away as his true masterwork, that initial impression that 12 Songs made on me would was significant enough that I consider it my favorite Randy Newman album, the one that will continue to have the most conjuring power over me through the years as I surely turn to dust.

The Everly Brothers (seen here in 1961 as shot by Richard Avedon) recorded one of my favorite love songs of all time — "Love Hurts" — in 1960. Most know this song from the Nazareth version from ‘75 (officially inducted into the Suckin Face Hall of Fame in ‘89, I believe) and the Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris version from ‘73, but few know this first recording of the classic ballad written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant (writers of the bluegrass staple "Rocky Top"). 
I’m racking my brain trying to figure out the name of the film on which I first heard this version of the song. Its title escapes me and the internet has been no help. It was Dutch omnibus film, I believe, featuring at least one short based on the writing of John Fante (which is why I checked it out). I distinctly recall the moment the song came on. It was a Lynch-ian moment. So sad yet consoling at the same time, like realizing the lead singer of Aerosmith was really your father and that all those hard rock childhood memories weren’t for naught, but that they could be incorporated into your adulthood in a meaningful way. It felt fantastic.
(photo via anneyhall)

The Everly Brothers (seen here in 1961 as shot by Richard Avedon) recorded one of my favorite love songs of all time — "Love Hurts" — in 1960. Most know this song from the Nazareth version from ‘75 (officially inducted into the Suckin Face Hall of Fame in ‘89, I believe) and the Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris version from ‘73, but few know this first recording of the classic ballad written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant (writers of the bluegrass staple "Rocky Top").

I’m racking my brain trying to figure out the name of the film on which I first heard this version of the song. Its title escapes me and the internet has been no help. It was Dutch omnibus film, I believe, featuring at least one short based on the writing of John Fante (which is why I checked it out). I distinctly recall the moment the song came on. It was a Lynch-ian moment. So sad yet consoling at the same time, like realizing the lead singer of Aerosmith was really your father and that all those hard rock childhood memories weren’t for naught, but that they could be incorporated into your adulthood in a meaningful way. It felt fantastic.

(photo via anneyhall)