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"Mama Told Me Not To Come" (1966), Written by Randy Newman for Eric Burdon's First Solo Album


DonRocks
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People are probably wondering what I'm smoking, beginning a thread about "Mama Told Me Not To Come," one of the most embarrassingly annoying songs that Three Dog Night ever recorded. Worse, it was written by Randy Newman, who I find about as likable as Michael Moore, with a voice about as pleasant as Bob Dylan's.

So why am I writing about such a bad song?

Because it's the *only* song that I've heard Randy Newman perform (granted, a very limited selection) that I like, but only *his* bluesy version. Three Dog Night - the cover everyone knows about - ruined it by turning it into some silly soft-rock ballad:

<--- This is really bad: sanitized, takes itself too seriously, no blues component, etc.

But Newman's version works, because it's bluesy, gritty, and somewhat tongue-in-cheek:

<--- This works

So, a song that I never liked, sung by a performer I never liked, equals a performance that I like: Two negatives make a positive.

And the unknown, original version by Eric Burdon and The Animals works to some extent also, because it's closer in spirit to what Newman wrote:

<--- This also works (but not as well as Newman's)

Trivia: Did you know that Eric Burdon was the lead singer of *both* The Animals ("The House of the Rising Sun") *and* War ("The Cisco Kid")?! I can't hear the same person singing both of these recordings, but it is so.

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Never liked Randy Newman?!?!?  Have you listened to the record "Good Old Boys"?  The first song, "Rednecks," is lyrically difficult (it asks, in uncomfortable ways with racial slur prominent, whether the listener is really better than the racist redneck narrator).  After that, the record is funny, poetic, and insightful.
 

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Never liked Randy Newman?!?!?  Have you listened to the record "Good Old Boys"?  The first song, "Rednecks," is lyrically difficult (it asks, in uncomfortable ways with racial slur prominent, whether the listener is really better than the racist redneck narrator).  After that, the record is funny, poetic, and insightful.

I think in a lot of ways, it's a similar situation with Bob Dylan - both are obviously *immensely* musically talented (at least in popular terms), but neither one can sing, and with my ears (I have absolute pitch, and there's nothing I can do about it - read this paragraph about "Possible Problems"), I have trouble getting past the vocal issues. It took me a lot of soul-searching to realize that was my problem with Dylan, so because I did all that reflection with Dylan, it didn't take very long to reach the same conclusion about Newman. Just because I don't "like" them doesn't mean they aren't talented, or great, or <name your adjective>. Because of the conversations we've had on this website, I've also learned to appreciate them for what they are, and to be content with that.

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