Good Old Boys (Randy Newman album)

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Good Old Boys
Randy Newman - Good Old Boys.jpg
Studio album by
Released10 September 1974
RecordedWarner Bros. Studios in North Hollywood, California
GenreRock, honky tonk
ProducerLenny Waronker, Russ Titelman
Randy Newman chronology
Sail Away
Good Old Boys
Little Criminals

Good Old Boys is the fourth studio album by Randy Newman, released in September 1974 on Reprise Records, catalogue number 2193. It was Newman's first album to obtain major commercial success, peaking at number 36 on the Billboard 200, . The premiere live performance of the album took place on October 5, 1974, at the Symphony Hall in Atlanta, Georgia, with guest Ry Cooder and Newman conducting the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.


Initially envisioned as a concept album about a character named Johnny Cutler, an everyman of the Deep South, a demo of which was recorded by Newman on February 1, 1973. These 13 songs were subsequently released as the bonus disc for the 2002 reissue, titled Johnny Cutler's Birthday.

The kernel of this concept survived into the released album, although as Newman's take on viewpoints from the inhabitants of the Deep South in general, rather than from a single individual character. As on his previous release, Newman addressed generally taboo topics such as slavery and racism, most stringently on the opening song "Rednecks", a simultaneous satire on institutional racism in the Deep South and the hypocrisy of the northern states in response.

Newman also incorporates actual historical events into the album, remarking upon the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 on "Louisiana 1927" and a plea to Richard Nixon to alleviate poverty as a result of the recession of the mid-1970s on "Mr. President (Have Pity on the Working Man)". Preceding an original song ("Kingfish") recounting achievements and slogans of Louisiana politician Huey "The Kingfish" Long, Newman performs with members of the Eagles on a song written by Long himself, "Every Man a King".

As with all of Newman's early albums, some material Newman wrote had been previously recorded by other artists. In this case, "Guilty" had been initially recorded and released by Bonnie Raitt on her 1973 album Takin' My Time.

A lengthy analysis of Good Old Boys, including a detailed description of the Dick Cavett Show broadcast that inspired "Rednecks", is included in Steven Hart's essay "He May Be a Fool But He's Our Fool: Lester Maddox, Randy Newman, and the American Culture Wars", included in the collection Let the Devil Speak: Articles, Essays, and Incitements.

In 2014, Turntable Publishing released the ebook, Song of the South: Randy Newman's Good Old Boys, by David Kastin, a full-length critical study of the album's sources, evolution, and reception. In the Sixth Edition of his classic Mystery Train, Greil Marcus cited Kastin's book as an "effectively-illustrated...excavation of the entire severed corpus of the work and a deep dive into the history - musical, social economic, sectional, and water-born - Newman both drew from and recast."


On the same day as the album, the track "Guilty" was released as Reprise single 1324, with "Naked Man" on the B-side, and on January 29, 1975, the track "Louisiana 1927" was released as Reprise single 1387, with "Marie" on the flip. Neither single appeared on the Billboard Hot 100.


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[1]
Christgau's Record GuideA[3]
Rolling Stone5/5 stars[4]

Robert Christgau gave the album an A rating upon release, and both the 1992 edition of the Rolling Stone Album Guide and AllMusic gave it a five-star rating. In 2003, the album was ranked number 393 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. It spent two weeks in the top 40 of the Billboard 200 in late 1974, with an overall 21-week tenure. It also earned a gold record in the Netherlands.

On May 21, 2002, an expanded edition of the album was issued by Rhino Records on compact disc, including a bonus track demo of "Marie" and a second disc containing the February, 1973 demos entitled Johnny Cutler's Birthday. Included in these demo recordings are Newman's verbal descriptions of sound effects and other characters, the songs as a whole describing a narrative in the vein of integrated musicals dating from the 1940s. "Doctor, Doctor" is an early version of "Back on My Feet Again". The song "Marie" was used in the family film "Paulie" in 1998.

All tracks were written and arranged by Randy Newman; strings arranged by Nick DeCaro on "Marie" and "Rollin'"; Moog and ARP synthesizers programmed by Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Randy Newman except where noted.

Side one
4."Mr. President (Have Pity on the Working Man)"2:45
Side two
6."Louisiana 1927" 2:54
7."Every Man a King"Huey Long, Castro Carazo1:02
8."Kingfish" 2:42
9."Naked Man" 3:06
10."Wedding in Cherokee County" 3:07
11."Back on My Feet Again" 3:30
12."Rollin'" 2:53

2002 Reissue[edit]


  • Judy Maizel, Trudy Portch - production coordination
  • Lee Herschberg - engineer, mixing
  • Donn Landee - additional engineer, mixing
  • Mike Salisbury - cover design, photography

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mark Deming. "Good Old Boys - Randy Newman | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  2. ^ Cook-Wilson, Winston (October 16, 2016). "Randy Newman: Good Old Boys". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 16, 2016.
  3. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: N". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 8, 2019 – via
  4. ^ Davis, Stephen (1997-01-21). "Good Old Boys". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2016-08-29.