Randy Newman in 2009; PC: Wikimedia Commons
Did the song title catch your attention? Then I’m sure Randy Newman knew exactly what he was doing. In what should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the lyrically edgy artist – beyond the scope of his Disney songs that is – Newman has just released a scathing new satirical track that is sure to catch people’s attention.
Following the same spirit as some of his earlier work such as “Redneck” and “Political Science” – in which he spoke of racism and American jingoism, respectively, in the guise of unreliable narrators – Newman’s new track, “I’m Dreaming (of a White President),” is just as poignantly lyrical as you should expect.
And some sample lyrics for the curious: “Dreaming of a white President/ Someone whom we can understand/ Someone who knows where we're coming from." Remember, this is the guy who had a hit singing “short people got no reason to live.”
In an interview with Slate, Newman spoke briefly about the inspiration for his latest track, revealing that this particular song’s narrator "has no case at all, just some vague pseudo-scientific theories that no doubt sound good to him but are nonsense.”
As far as the music goes, the song takes cues from Irving Berlin’s famous carol “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas” but Newman insists that this choice had less to do with Berlin or the song’s original performer, Bing Crosby, and more with “the America they represent.”
"For me it's a reaction to the Republican Party, which seems to have drifted farther to the right than a major party has drifted in my lifetime in any direction," stated Newman. "It seems to have become almost a radical party. The hate and . . . I don't think it'll last. That kind of thing doesn't seem to last."
Newman goes on to specifically name as inspiration the added criticism directed at Barack Obama during his presidency which he believes had strong racial undercurrents.
"Still, it's clear that there are lots of people out there who are uncomfortable [with a black president]," he said. "The Civil War was a long time ago, but there are aspects of it that remain unsettled, I think. Early on in Obama's term, there was heat generated by issues that you wouldn't think would cause such passion. Even the term 'Obamacare,' the way it's spit out, like he was some kind of witch doctor. Maybe I'm overly sensitive to the issue, but I don't think so. There's an edge to things that normally wouldn't have an edge. I thought it was a little extra."
Whether or not you agree with the man, you can download yourself a free copy of “I’m Dreaming” by hitting this link where you will be greeted with Newman encouraging listeners to donate to the United Negro College Fund.