Randy Newman: My Life in 15 Songs

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

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I started it two and a half years ago. It was seeing [Russian leader] Vladimir Putin in those pictures with his shirt off. Like what the hell does he want? He's the most powerful man in the world – and he wants to be Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt. The song is less critical than I thought it would be, although the tone gets menacing at the end. If it's just a joke, it's worth something to me. It's worth less unless there's something else. But I can't tell people what to get from a song. When I'm doing "Rednecks" for a crowd and they're like "We're rednecks, yeah!", that bothers me. It's closer to home.

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