How does a songwriter reveal what he thinks of his country? Randy Newman, a master lyricist, has never had a problem. In these two programmes he talks about how America has and perhaps more importantly, has not changed over his life. Since the age of sixteen, he has consistently written songs about difficult topics and set them to soaring melodies.
In the second of this two part series, Newman's exploration of what makes America a great and a difficult place to live in, takes us to the angry proud and embattled South where 'the civil war has never been won' to the power of religious music to a new song making fun of the Kennedy brothers.
Always brilliant at seeing into the future, Randy revisits his song Mr. President that eerily describes his views of the current President of the United States, which he freely expresses. But because he's Randy Newman he lashes out with pithy wit. He explains a new song The Great Debate about the clash between science and religion that has always divided the country. It's a short story in song with vibrant characters. Randy Newman ever the narrator relishes setting himself up as straw man putting up arguments that he knocks down. From his comfortable home in the Pacific Palisades he admits that he admires those people who have stepped out of the rat race to follow their passions in an America without a safety net. Not many pop songs are comic he says but for him, it's the best way to be serious about your country.