Randy Newman: My Life in 15 Songs

Here's how a comic genius built one of American music's greatest catalogs

"I Love L.A."

I wrote "I Love L.A." because Don Henley said to me, "Everybody's writing L.A. songs, people not from here. You're from here. Why don't you write one?" There is an aggressive ignorance to the song – ignorant and proud of it. There's nothing wrong with the Beach Boys and open-top cars. But the guy talks about the bum ["Look at that bum over there, man/He's down on his knees"] and is still shouting "We love it". My cousin, Tim Newman, did the video [a tour of L.A. beaches and hot spots with Newman driving a Buick convertible]. He did the ones for ... what the hell's the name of those blues guys with the long beards? [Long pause] ZZ Top! This was a cheerful shoot. Those people [singing the chorus] are pretty happy.