I first heard a Randy Newman song in the early 1970’s. It was Judy Collins singing “I Think It’s Gonna Rain Today” and it was the first time I really felt that expressing sadness or sentimental nostalgia in a song might be a good thing.
Years later, he released a song “It’s Money that I Love.” On the album cover he painted his face like a clown with dollar signs on his eyes. So I thought, hey, maybe he would be amused if I sent him a fan letter with a cheque for one dollar? Even if he didn’t laugh, I could get his autograph when he endorsed the cheque to cash it, and then I’d have this priceless thing, and he’d have my dollar.
Randy Newman outfoxed me completely. Instead he sent me an autographed picture with the message “Dear Jan, Next time please send American money. Thanks anyway. Randy Newman”.
Here is the photo with his message to me and the cheque he attached.
Ten years later, my friend Holger Peterson who had seen this hanging in my recording studio offers me his backstage ID so that I can meet Randy after his performance at the Edmonton Folk Festival. So I take the picture with his cheque off the wall and take it to meet him in person, a dream come true. Sure enough, after his set, he’s standing by a fence alone, collecting his thoughts, and security let’s me through to go up to talk to him. He sees me coming, and not feeling sociable, he tries to get away but there is no way out. I introduce myself and show him the picture, and he says “Hey, I REMEMBER this!” He then got really friendly with me, and we ended up talking about how much we hated watching the Barney show with our kids. Before I left, I offered him the cheque back in case he needed the money. He smiled and said “That’s OK Jan, you can keep it….”