Singer/songwriter Randy Newman released his new album Harps and Angels (2008) this past Tuesday. One of my favorite songs on the album is “A Few Words in Defense of My Country” about America’s changing reputation among our allies. In typical Newman fashion he spins it around on them, dragging up references to horrible European leaders (similar to his song “Great Nations of Europe“) while remaining equally harsh while talking about the President, color codes, and the Supreme Court.
The above clip is an older video of him performing the song. But if you like what you hear on that clip, I’d recommend getting the album version of it. Its orchestrated and Newman plays off of American stereotypes by using slide guitars and a “Tex-Mex” kind of orchestration at the beginning (a reference to the image of America as a country that likes to play cowboys).
All in all, Newman isn’t merely trying to shove history in Europe’s face and he certainly is not singing America’s praises. Instead he forces us to acknowledge that, like it or not, we are not the country we thought we were and the era of America is coming to a close (not so much in the apocalyptic sense, but more of the idea that we can no longer shove our way around the world). Â And with this he is just asking Europe for a little patience and to not judge us too harshly. Â OR as he puts it: “times like this we sure could use a friend“.