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Jolly Coppers

randynewman

Recently I got a vinyl copy of Randy Newman’s Little Criminals. Played it and loved it. But one song in particular, “Jolly Coppers on Parade”, stopped me in my tracks. I must have played it ten times in a row. And then again the next day. I think it’s a perfect song- beautiful, tasteful instrumentation, lyrically impressionistic and paints a picture of a scene with little added commentary or narration. Not to mention it resonates strongly and stands in contrast to today’s current climate of cases of police brutality, overreach, veiled racism and fear, and machismo on the part of many. The lyrics are pure as a childlike dream. But one may choose to infuse it with irony and an undercurrent of protest as a piece of subversion. Randy Newman’s a genius songwriter and phenomenal musician. And with such a singular, effortless voice. It occurred to me- a music fan and songwriter who pays attention to music, new and old- that this perfect song has been out and about in the world for nearly 40 years (released in 1977) and I had no clue. It does seem a little bit criminal if we have not heard this great record. It’s a gem- how did we (I?) miss it? But that’s the power of a song and music- almost forty years after its release I was introduced to and moved by it, and it added a layer of beauty to the world in my eyes. That’s a profound thing. If my music can be heard by listeners now and for years to come, and if they can gain something by it- a feeling, inspiration, enjoyment, if they may be somehow touched by it- then that’s all I can ask of my work. Hope you’ll dig in to my growing catalogue (I have four more albums of written material I’ll be trying to record and release in the coming few years) and find something you like, something meaningful. But for now, take in the understated majesty of “Jolly Coppers on Parade”. Here’s the album version on YouTube plus an insightful interview here with Newman about his process and writing from 1989.

“Jolly Coppers on Parade”
They’re comin’ down the street
They’re comin’ right down the middle
Look how they keep the beat
Why they’re as blue as the ocean
How the sun shines down
How their feet hardly touch the ground
Jolly Coppers On Parade

Here come the black-and-whites
Here come the motorcycles
Listen to those engines roar
Now they’re doin’ tricks for the children
Oh, they look so nice
Looks like angels have come down from Paradise
Jolly Coppers On Parade

Oh, mama
That’s the life for me
When I’m grown
That’s what I’m want to be

They’re comin’ down the street
They’re comin’ right down the middle
Look how they keep the beat
Why they’re as blue as the ocean
Oh, it’s all so nice
Looks like angels have come down from Paradise
Jolly Coppers On Parade