“A Wedding in Cherokee County” – Randy Newman

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Another gem from Randy Newman’s 1974 album “Good Old Boys.” This song is sung from the perspective of a loser who is about to marry someone that no one in his town thinks much of. However, despite this, he’s also terrified of his wedding night. Either because he’s impotent or because his equipment is deformed (I’ve never been able to figure out which). He starts wailing about his new bride laughing at his “mighty sword.” Given Newman’s normal sardonic nature, it seems like he’s laughing at his subject, but he’s not. The gorgeous arrangement and singing provide a dignity to a man who doesn’t have any. And you genuinely feel the man’s pain and terror.

“Louisiana 1927” – Randy Newman

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Forget the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Randy Newman is the equal of any of the greatest American songwriters in our over 200 year history. “Louisiana 1927” is a beautiful and terribly sad song about the flood of 1927, which has taken on even more resonance, post-Katrina.