Good Old Boys| Revisionist History podcast with Malcolm Gladwell E4/S4 (Transcript)
Good Old Boys
Episode 4| Season 4| Revisionist History
Length: 45 mins | Released: July 11, 2019
To see the full transcript, go here.
NOTE: Episodes 3 -11 are contained in one interactive project. Click the down arrow to the right of the episode name to select it.
This episode contains explicit language
Malcolm Gladwell: In the fall of 1974, the musician Randy Newman released an album called Good Old Boys. The most beautiful song on the record is the third song on the first side.
Malcolm Gladwell: Wait, can I prevail on you to just do a little bit of Marie?
Randy Newman: Sure.
Malcolm Gladwell: I love that song so much.
Randy Newman: Well, thank you very much.
Randy Newman: [singing] Looked like a princess
The night we met.
Malcolm Gladwell: My name is Malcolm Gladwell. You're listening to Revisionist History, my podcast about things overlooked and misunderstood. This episode is about Randy Newman's Good Old Boys, one of the most remarkable albums of its era. I listened to it for the first time years ago, but then I happened to listen to it again very recently and realized that Good Old Boys is not an album you can hear just once and hope to do it justice. Because it's not just remarkable; it's unsettling. I don't think an album like this could be made today, and by the end of this episode, I suspect you'll agree with me.
Malcolm Gladwell: I decided to go to California, sit down with Randy Newman, and create a listener's guide to one of the most perplexing works of music that I have ever encountered.
Randy Newman: [singing] I'm drunk right now, baby
But I've got to be
I loved you the first time
I saw you
And I'll always love you, Marie
Malcolm Gladwell: Newman is in his 70s, still writing music. Tall, and slightly intimidating, he's Hollywood royalty. His uncle Alfred was a composer who was nominated for an Academy Award 44 times, won 9 times. Newman has had a second career writing for the movies as well, like you've got a friend in me for Toy Story. Newman is unusual among songwriters because he writes in character and the narrator of Good Old Boys is a creation of Newman's. He's called Johnny Cutler, a steelworker from Birmingham, Alabama, 30 years old.
Malcolm Gladwell: The song Marie is about Johnny Cutler coming home late after a night out with the boys and gazing, lovestruck, at his sleeping wife.
Randy Newman: I liked the idea, very much, about being inarticulate withoutÔøΩ That's not the right word, inarticulate, but being unable to have the words unless you drank something. You know, I can't say this to you. And maybe to lack the ability to say those kind of words.
Malcolm Gladwell: But he'sÔøΩ the fact that he has been drinking, and you realize he can only say what he's saying because he's drunk and because she's asleep.
Randy Newman: Yeah.
Malcolm Gladwell: Right? But that makes meÔøΩ Humanizes him even more. I sort of feel so sorry for him.
Randy Newman: He certainly loves her. I mean, it would seem that that isn't drink; but it might be.
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Transcripts for the entire Season 1ÔøΩ ÔøΩ4 podcasts of Revisionist History are available here.
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