Containing Multitudes Since 2004
And it's probably the greatest of all Randy Newman songs--complex, funny, and caustic.
One thing I could never figure out about that song:Who was the "smartass New York Jew" on that panel? I mean, it wasn't Cavett; it wasn't Capote; and it sure as hell wasn't Jim Brown.
I always took that to mean that, to the narrator, any white man from the north ridiculing Lester is a smart-ass New York Jew, much like the epithet "pinko, commie, jew bastard" in which the accuracy of the description is of no concern. A dumbass redneck isn't going to bother to check on Cavett's genealogy.
Actually, it's not Dick Cavett, it's Richard Alva Cavett. And they weren't talking things over, they were arguing. And it's not skee ball, it's. . . .
I had always heard that it was David Susskind, not Cavett. Don't know how much of a smartass Susskind was, but he was definitely, like Randy Newman, Jewish.
For the curious, here's the interview with Randy Newman done in 1998 with Offbeat in Louisiana:"I wrote “Rednecks,” after seeing [Lester] Maddox on the [Dick] Cavett show, and seeing him be treated rudely. He wasn’t even given a chance to prove what an idiot he was. It was like, they sat Jim Brown next to him, and the crowd was razzin’ him; he didn’t get a chance to talk. He didn’t get a chance to do anything, and they had just elected him Governor, in a state of six million or whatever, and if I were a Georgian, I would have been offended, irrespective of the fact that he was a bigot and a fool."The mention of Jim Brown indicates that this is, indeed, the exact episode and interview Newman was watching and that his song's narrator would simply see Cavett as a "smartass New York Jew," regardless of whether he was or not.
I remember that when Maddox demanded an apology after a few terse moments Cavett said that he apologizes to anyone he called a bigot, who isn't.
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