Monday, February 17, 2020

100 Greatest Albums: Good Old Boys

There may be more than 100 greatest albums of all time, with each individual album being itself the single greatest album ever. But 100 is neat as a number, and it is an irresistible organizing principle. Plus, when I conceived of this project, all the albums that made the claim in my heart of "greatest" easily nestled like marbles in a small bag in my mind. They weighed a certain amount. I sort of knew what all the marbles were, loosely, and it felt like it was about a hundred. It weighed about a hundred. 

And yet, when I reach my hand in to pull one out, sometimes I am completely surprised by what I get.

But only for a minute. After a minute I say:

There should only be this one marble in this bag!

And so...

Good Old Boys is an album by Randy Newman from 1974. It was his fourth studio album, and it was originally conceived as a 

blah blah blah.

I'm afraid time is too short to regurgitate Wikipedia.

Because what I wanted to tell you, before the ocean of the Internet washes over the brief second this glints in the sun, and pulls it back out to sea, is that Good Old Boys absolutely confounded me when I first heard it. No music had confounded me since I first listened to Highway 61 Revisited and had a key to the Universe handed to me. Sometimes one gets the same key over and over. The key says: 

Art isn't a bunch of marbles in a bag.

It's not a butterfly collection.

It's not money or fame.

It's not answers it's


Questions are the answers!


Randy Newman is a beautiful songwriter who seems like he has an overwhelming, almost unbearably strong point of view. Too strong.

But pay attention and

it turns out he's just listening.


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