Thursday, January 7, 2010

Is Randy Newman an Atheist?

Brushing aside singer/songwriter/composer Randy Newman's catchy music and his utter disdain for short people, I think I may have found yet another reason to love the guy. It seems he's something of an atheist.

It's interesting because there is a line in one of his songs from Disney-Pixar's "A Bug's Life" that always gave me pause. It goes:

It's the time of your life,
So live it well.
We may only go 'round just one time,
As far as I can tell.

[Click here to listen]

However, he is quickly undercut by a chorus that answers, "He could be wrong about that!" I think it's amusing. You can almost imagine Randy trying to sing a little personal truth only to be challenged by the family-friendly demigods over at Disney. (In truth, I think it may just be Randy inserting his own personal touch of humor).

Randy's new work on "The Frog and the Princess" includes a line that sounds even more delightfully subversive. Prince Naveen sings:

Life is short,
When you're done, you're done,
We're on the is earth to have some fun,
And that's the way things are.

[Click here to listen]

Is that Randy Newman coming through again? Or is it just an insight into Prince Naveen's selfish, carefree desires? "When you're done, you're done" seems especially definite. Kudos to Randy for throwing a little realism into a Disney fairytale film!

As far as verifying Randy Newman's religious belief, I haven't found anything too solid yet. He is on a few "Famous Atheists" lists, which lends evidence to the idea. This anecdote comes from one such list:

When Newman was a child, a local parent uninvited him from a dance, explaining: ‘I’m sorry, Randy, my daughter had no right to invite you because no Jews are allowed.’ Newman had to ask his dad what a Jew was. He then studied comparative religion and became a devout atheist 'except when I'm sick."


SuiginChou said...

I don't think the idea of a terminal life (or a spiritual terminus, for that matter) is incompatible with Christian ideology. Many Christians I have known have had some spin on the belief that, pursuant to death, one's soul becomes one with God and one ceases to be the earthly spirit-"thing" one once was, and one loses all of his earthly longings and desires. In that sense, even a Christian would agree that "once you die, you [as the soul you currently know yourself to be] are dead." It's sort of akin to the science-fiction thriller notion of brainwashing somebody on Team A and having them join Team B who is against Team A. As the brainwashing drug is injected into their veins, they plea for mercy, and a sick grin spreads across their archnemesis's face as he says, "Don't worry: soon, you'll be one of us." The person is still alive, but the persona, the entity they once were, is dead and gone forever. (Barring happy-ending scenarios where the damage can be and is undone, e.g. Picard with the Borg in ST:TNG.)

Susan said...

If you ever have any doubts about Newman's lack of belief, check out his album Faust (he plays the Devil)(James Taylor is God) and especially the song "Glory Train":

Jay said...

Well I'd say that just about seals the deal. Thanks! I listened to Newman sing the whole thing on youtube. It was kind of funny, but he didn't seem to be taking his performance very seriously.

tom sheepandgoats said...

sigh....he caused me a lot of trouble, Randy Newman did, with his album Harps and Angels. What was I to conclude but that he was a Bible thumping preacher? But I was wrong as could me. He sure enough is atheist and has been for a long time.

. said...

Watching the movie Michael (1996) and in the opening credits it reads "Heaven is my Home" Randy Newman sung with Valerie Carter.

. said...

Watching the movie Michael (1996) and in the opening credits it reads "Heaven is my Home" Randy Newman sung with Valerie Carter.