“Easily one of Randy Newman’s most underrated songs” — 1997’s “Baltimore”

In October of 1977, Randy Newman released his sixth album, Little Criminals. The LP would be Newman’s first gold record and include his first hit single (reaching #2 on Billboard’s Hot 100), “Short People” — a satirical song about the prejudiced views of a lunatic that would be misinterpreted as an anthem of hate.

My favorite track on the disc is “Baltimore,” featuring backing vocals by Glenn Frey & J.D. Souther, Frey also on guitar, Willie Weeks on bass,  Andy Newmark & Rick Marotta on drums, and Milt Holland on percussion.

Mattthew Greenfield from All Music sums it up best in his review of the song:

“Easily one of Randy Newman’s most underrated songs, ‘Baltimore’ is a fabulous, downcast, and heavy ballad.The subject matter of the city in the title is almost secondary. At the time when Newman wrote this in the mid-’70s, he really could have been writing about almost any major urban city that was going through a depressed economy. The imagery of the lonesome seagull in a polluted harbor is particularly striking, and very representative of a losing battle against nature. Musically, it’s equally as brilliant, propelled by a soulful series of riffs and chord changes that accurately mirror the subject matter.”



About poppaculture

I am a seasoned consumer of modern (and not so modern) culture.
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2 Responses to “Easily one of Randy Newman’s most underrated songs” — 1997’s “Baltimore”

  1. Tom says:

    A songwriter who tells stories — first-person narratives — but they’re not his own point of view? I’m so confused.

    I think you’re right. Baltimore is the best song on Little Criminals. But I don’t think there is a bad song on that album. I even liked Short People the first 25,000 times I heard it. Very satirical. but it got sooooooo much radio play that now I still skip it when I play the album.

    Remember Nilsson sings Newman?

    How about Newman sings Nilsson? Newman was working on an album of Nilsson songs when Harry died.


    Great stuff, John.

    • poppaculture says:

      That is great stuff, Tom. I had no idea Newman was working on such an album (or that the CD “For The Love of Harry: Everybody Sings Nilsson” even exists).

      This summer, I finally saw “Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)?” It was amazing and reaffirming of Nilsson’s talent — and also sad.

      Long ago … far away …

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