“Ain’t Gonna Worry No More”: Depictions Of The American South In Randy Newman’s Good Old Boys
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Randy Newman’s album Good Old Boys (1974) is a southern concept album. Newman employs several narrators on the album in order to explore multiple perspectives and elements that illuminate southern identity. Newman’s observations result in a view of the South as disenfranchised, defeated not only by their regional prejudice and own mistakes, but by moral hypocrisy and abandonment from the rest of the United States. In implicating the rest of the country, Newman indicates that the struggles highlighted in the South and southern identity are not simply a result of regional dynamics, but indicative of larger American dynamics. What’s more, many of Newman’s observations and commentary withstand the test of time, and maintain relevance to political and social dynamics still present today. In providing biographical, historical, social, and musical context, as well as close-reading the album, the thesis not only explores Newman’s methods, but argues for his larger goals. Through analyzing and engaging with reviews of the album, both contemporary and modern, this thesis establishes Good Old Boys’ lasting relevance and legacy.