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Newman Finally Wins Oscar

After fifteen tries, singer-songwriter wins for "Monster's, Inc." song

March 25, 2002 12:00 AM ET

Randy Newman's "If I Didn't Have You," from Monsters, Inc., won the Academy Award for Best Original Song last night, breaking the singer-songwriter's Oscar losing streak after fifteen consecutive unfruitful nominations. That mark tied a record held by art director Roland Anderson and composer Alex North (who later received an honorary Oscar).

"I don't want your pity," Randy Newman joked from the stage of the Staples Center in Los Angeles. "I want to thank the music branch [of the Academy] for giving me so many chances to be humiliated over the years."

Earlier in the evening, Newman lost his bid for Best Original Score to Howard Shore's work on Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, giving him his fifteenth loss.

Newman has become an Oscar regular over the past decade, earning at least one Academy Award nomination every year since 1994 with the exception of 1997. His notable nominations include two for Best Score (The Natural and Avalon) and a string of nods for Best Original Song for his Nineties work on films including Meet the Parents, Toy Story and A Bug's Life.

With this year's win, Newman and "If I Didn't Have You" topped Sting's "Until" (from Kate and Leopold, which earlier this year won a Golden Globe in the same category, as well as Paul McCartney's "Vanilla Sky" (from the film of the same name), Enya's "May It Be" (from Lord of the Rings) and Diane Warren's "There You'll Be" (from Pearl Harbor).

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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