FAQ: Global Warming, Austria, and Kanye West

— GLOBAL WARMING, 24 July 2006 —

We’re in Nice on a day off. Ahead are two more shows, one in Stuttgart and one in Lörrach. My fellow geography bores will be interested to learn that Lörrach is just barely in Germany. It’s right on the Swiss border so I expect it to be strict but the hotel service should be good. The Swiss and the Germans have very different sense of humor. They both like ice shows however.

I may make some jokes about the Austrians. Speaking of Austria, one of my sons had a girlfriend whose stepfather is a Hapsburg – the heir to the throne in fact. The Newman family has never flown so high. Alas, the relationship is over and I have no hope of becoming a Von or Zu. (NbC – like the Von Trapp family) Cathy never gets too far away from The Sound of Music except in dealing with Gary Norris.

The show in Verruchio was in a small cemetery next to a castle. The audience was very kind and I had fun up there. We ate in a restaurant in a building from the 13th century. It looked pretty good. Apparently, they didn’t know they were in the Dark Ages. I know some Italian. I kept making sporadic attempts to communicate in the language. I would say, for instance, “io sono paura”, which means, “I am afraid”. I know I was saying it right. They would repeat it back to me exactly as I said it. This constantly recurring phenomenon made me paura. Neil Young can play to 80,000 people in Rome or Milan. I don’t think I can yet.

I played the Blue Note Jazz Festival in Ghent. I actually played some jazz by the way when I made a mistake in the instrumental break in “Simon Smith”. There was a lot of stuff going on in the street all the time. The town was having a street festival too. I was taking a walk the day after my show and I saw a guy scraping my picture off a pole. I said, “Hey you son of a bitch, what do you think you’re doing? The show may be over, but I think the people here in Belgium would still like to have my picture on their pole.” He just kept scraping and I walked away. If I’d had a weapon, like he did, I would have defended my honor even though I have a bad wrist and a torn left bicep.

The show in Ghent was in a tent

The rain that fell was Heaven sent

It was so hot I quite forgot to bring an extra shirt

Were’t not for Cathy who knows at what cost

All sense of decorum would’ve been lost

For I would have had to go on without a shirt

Which would’ve weakened the impact of some of the love songs.

Ghent, Newcastle and Lucerne were all sold out (NbC – He’s lying. Newcastle was almost sold out.) Here and there I’ve been doing this new song which I haven’t finished, “A Few Words In Defense Of My Country” or….”On behalf Of My Country”. See? It’s not finished. I probably shouldn’t be playing it. I’ve never played anything that wasn’t done before. It gets some big laughs but it’s not right yet. Lucerne is a beautiful town with a lake and a river in it. I’d like to live on a river someday. I lived by a creek once. It flooded and tore out our garage and almost got the whole house. The weather is changing. I think the earth is going to get hotter in the years to come. It’s hot in Europe and it’s hot at home. (Something is happening and you don’t know what it is…do you Mr. Jones? Or as I heard Bob do it the last time I saw him play, “xhdisodlnmufklhjduvkgjhdhekgsjcpojkdheydjkkfkgirifkhrhwgdyejeskufhg, Jones.” That’s the seventy-five dollar version.)

The audiences in Switzerland and Italy applaud when I play the intro to Dixie Flyer. It must have been used in a feminine hygiene commercial or something. I sure as hell didn’t sell any records in Italy. By the way, I finally found an audience, two of them actually, who like “Red Bandana”. (NbC – Sad to say, he’s wrong. He keeps playing it, I’ve told him not to. I don’t have the heart to tell him that only one person likes the song, the man in the mirror.)

Gateshead is across the River Tyne from Newcastle. Newcastle is Alan Price’s hometown and he wrote about it a lot. I owe him a great deal. He recorded some of my first songs and did them very well. He had a hit with “Simon Smith”. The first of three hits I’ve had. Anyway, he’s a great guy and it was good to see where he came from. I met someone who went to school with him. I’ve become a regular Chatty Cathy, haven’t I? I just go maundering on and on. (NbC – on and on and on and on and on…just like the song) I know that these entries would be more interesting if I talked more about the shows but I have more important things to tell you. For instance, this morning here in Nice I sent out some laundry and some dry cleaning. I have some concern for some of my show costumes. Sometimes they come back deep fried, like a chicken fried steak. Once, in Israel, which is very unlike Switzerland in the dry cleaning department, they over cooked six white shirts which were irretrievably damaged. That’s why I find it so difficult to know who to root for in this war they’re having. I’m not anti-Zionist but poor dry cleaning is often a symptom of a deeper malaise. To me it shows lack of national character. All the fire power in the world doesn’t make up for one burned up shirt. I’m pissed off. I saw Hazel, Alyce, Alistair and many other LCs including, Martin Figura who gave me a book of his poetry. I’ve read some of the poems and liked them very much. He’s talented. Someone we know may be using some of Martin’s ideas in another medium. As always, and as I always say, and I always mean, I love seeing the Little Criminals after a show. At all these European shows there are autograph collectors who stand outside for sound check and before the show and sometimes at the hotel. I don’t even know if they know who I am. At Gateshead, I signed autographs going in to the show, when I came out this little guy came up to me. Cathy said, “You already signed for him.” He said, “No! I wasn’t here before.” He was irate. Anyway, Cathy and I got in the car and went to the hotel that was about ¼ mile away. The guy beat the car there. I told him (he was Irish) that he’d just broken the Irish 200 meter record. I signed and invited him up to the room to spend the night. I love great athletes.

Last night we played the Nice Jazz Festival. I went on one stage at the same time Kanye West was on another. I like his stuff. It’s young and alive, just like me. It was also kind of annoying but the show went fine. In some ways, I think it was the best show I’ve done because it was late and I couldn’t quite figure out the crowd but I think they ended up liking the show and for the most part I made the right choices about what to play for them. Ballads were tough sometimes. Jesus walked right through a couple.

Let’s have a little fun before we go. Of these two artists which is your favorite: Kanye West, Joe Jackson or Randy Newman? Send your answers to The Newman Foundation in Tulsa, OK along with 5 Euros. Look for results here!

Love

Randy

24 July 2006