[ilds] a different version of the truth

slighcl slighcl at wfu.edu
Wed Apr 30 19:18:21 PDT 2008

Songwriter Randy Newman's show is about irony
By Daniel Durchholz

Q: You usually write characters, not straight-up commentary. Could you put
yourself in the head of Condoleezza Rice or Dick Cheney? What would that 
be like?

A: I don't know if they know they're liars. I'm sure Cheney still thinks 
right about his whole (Middle East) philosophy. And Condoleezza Rice may 
she's told the truth. But, no, I couldn't make a song out of that.

Q: Where did your interest in characters and unreliable narrators come from?

A: I got bored writing regular lyrics, love songs. I was writing a song in
1965, and I was looking for a rhyme with an "air" sound, and wrote "bear." I
ended up writing "Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear." It wasn't a
"Eureka!" moment. But I figured, I love it when you get a narrator. You know
"The Alexandria Quartet," the (Lawrence) Durrell books? You think you're
getting the truth in the first one, and in the second one, it's a different
version of the truth. It's like the old "Rashomon" kind of thing.

Charles L. Sligh
Department of English
Wake Forest University
slighcl at wfu.edu

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