Over his nearly 40 years of recording, Randy Newman has written plenty of songs about cantankerous characters who are best suited for their own company.
And the Grammy- and Oscar-winning singer-songwriter has found that he also has a preference for being alone — although he doesn’t mind if a thousand or so fans are listening to him as well.
“I found I like it better by myself than with a band,” says Newman, 62, who performs a solo show Sunday in Ann Arbor. “I like the orchestral shows I’ve done, but I really like it best when it’s just me and the piano. I can play what I want to play and have a lot more latitude.
“When I’m with a band, it’s better socially, ’cause you’re not all by yourself, but on stage I sort of lose contact with the audience. (Solo), I don’t have to jump around or anything. I can just do it.”
Newman says he’s open to audience requests at his solo shows and also tries to give fans an overview of his career, including hits such as “Short People” and “I Love L.A.,” and songs he wrote for films such as “Ragtime” and the Disney-Pixar movies “Toy Story,” “Toy Story 2,” “A Bug’s Life” and “Monsters Inc.”
Newman also has some new material to perform, eight or nine songs he’s “in the middle of” writing for an album — his fi rst of fresh songs since 1999 — that he hopes to release in 2007.
“It’s always too long,” Newman notes. “I think I should’ve tried to develop more of a liking for the studio. I don’t like it in there much, the way some people do. But the possibilities for the studio, which are immense, I’ve never explored that much.
“Another thing I regret is I haven’t put out more work. Elton John made five records while I was watching ‘Monday Night Football.’ I wish I’d done more, but there’s nothing I can do about it.”
Randy Newman performs at 7:30 p.m. Sunday (October 15th) at the Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $36.50-$65. Call (734) 668-8463 or visit
Send your thoughts and comments to