Interviewing Randy Newman by Glenn Tilbrook

I’ve been tremendously under the weather this week, and one of the best parts of being sick is the hallucinatory dreams I sometimes experience. In the throes of sickness I dreamed that I interviewed Neil Finn (of Crowded House and Fleetwood Mac). I took him to a classy bar, bought him dinner, and then didn’t say anything to him for the next forty minutes. Which is weird, because there are all sorts of things I want to ask Neil Finn, especially in regards to his upcoming tenure in Fleetwood Mac – is he going to sing Lindsey Buckingham’s songs? His own songs? ‘Black Magic Woman’?
Randy Newman’s also been on my radar this week – my daughter asked to listen to ‘You’ve Got A Friend In Me’ from Toy Story at bedtime, as she’s learning it to sing with her class. My response? “I guess that makes sense as a Randy Newman choice – it’s not like you can do that one about the fat boy, or the one about bombing everyone.”
You’d think it would be difficult to find a song to tie these two moments together, but in 2001, on his first solo album, Squeeze’s Glenn Tilbrook’s recorded a song about an awkward interview with Randy Newman. Glenn Tilbrook and Neil Finn have always appeared like parallel figures to me – two Beatles fans who both emerged young in the late 1970s and represented the poppy end of punk and new wave. If you don’t know Squeeze, the compilation Singles – 45’s and Under is an amazingly tight collection of new wave hits.
I’ve always enjoyed Tilbrook’s 2001 solo debut The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook – I wouldn’t say ‘Interviewing Randy Newman’ is one of the album’s best songs, but it’s certainly one of the most striking, Tilbrook’s confessions of an awkward interview (“And I’m thinking to myself, I’m glad this isn’t going out live”) accompanied by bleeps and bloops.


It was a hot afternoon, I caught a train up to town
I walked from Charing Cross to Soho in just under half an hour
Into an internet café, I went and had some tea
And I surfed the ‘net looking for information on Randy
And I haven’t even mentioned that I was interviewing Randy Newman
I didn’t feel at all nervous though for me this was new
Presenting an hour long special on Randy for Radio Two
Hey, we’re in the same business and have some mutual acquaintances
I felt like I should know enough to put him through his paces
It should be a wizard wheeze for me to shoot the breeze with Randy Newman
‘Let’s get a few things straight’ – said Steve, the producer of the radio show
‘Just relax and have a good time but there are some key things we’ll want to know’
‘That’s fine’ – I said – ‘I’ve done my homework, I’ve bought the CDs and some notes’
‘But I’d rather not read from written questions so let’s just see how it goes’
‘We’ve got an hour so let’s not worry’
‘We’ll get some banter going and not hurry’
He looked a little bit nervous, I said that it would be great
We’re taping here in London and Randy’s at home in L.A
Cut to two hours later and it’s one minute to five
And I’m thinking to myself, I’m glad this isn’t going out live
There’s a pounding in my heart as I start interviewing Randy Newman
‘Hello there, Randy, I’m Glenn Tilbrook, are you there? Can you hear me?’
‘Let me just say that I’ve been a big fan of yours since 1973’
And all the questions that I thought would flow just sailed right out of my head
And in the hour that followed I huffed and bluffed my way through a pool of sweat
I remember asking him if he was doing merchandise in ’74
And if so did he ever consider selling ‘Randy Newman’s Mighty Sword’
As a joke it wouldn’t have made the ‘C’ List
It’s a character of Randy’s pet name for his penis
Yes I was something less than a resounding success with Randy Newman
Randy had been kind but I floundered like I didn’t have a clue, man
Bad Love’s his new record if you haven’t got it yet, well you should do, man
The following week we re-voiced my bits
Steve did wonders with lots of edits
Randy and me we sounded like old mates
Everyone agreed that it turned out great
Interviewing Randy Newman
Interviewing Randy Newman
Interviewing Randy Newman


  1. Now that’s an odd song. Catchy but the lyrics seem a little too direct IMHO. Maybe he should have just written an article. I’ve had Randy Newman in mind to do a six-pack or tribute or something. I say that and then I get around to these things a year later.

  2. Tremendously under the weather doesn’t sound particularly nice! I hope you you feel better soon!
    And, as for the tune, as others have already said, that’s an odd one!

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