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WHAT YOU'RE LISTENING TO.

Byline: Victor D. Infante

COLUMN: WHAT YOU'RE LISTENING TO

For some reason, it seems to make complete sense that Worcester writer, poet and all-around funny guy Joe Fusco Jr. is a Randy Newman fan.

"In 1970," says Fusco, "at the impressionable age of 16, I purchased `Randy Newman,' the debut album of my favorite singer-songwriter. I had heard `Davey the Fat Boy,' Randy's tale of exploiting his obese best friend as a circus act and found it fit perfectly as the soundtrack to a project my all-boys Catholic high school was doing on `brotherhood.'"

Of course, it's easy to see Newman's darkly satirical influence in Fusco's own offbeat tales of showing up a day late for First Night, his tale of a romantic weekend in Maine, which he characterizes as "the greatest 24 minutes of my life," or responding to random comments at his father's wake: "He looks so good." "You should have seen him five days ago, when he was breathing."

Fusco's droll sense of humor is definitely a good match for Newman's, whose satire sometimes pushes hard at boundaries, especially on later songs such as "Political Science" and "Rednecks." But Newman shows a lot of sides on that album, especially with the melancholy and poetic "I Think It's Going to Rain Today," a reminder that - as with any good funny man - there's usually something burbling underneath the surface.

"Forty-one years later, I'm still a Newman junkie," says Fusco, "catching him live at Berkley Performance Center a few years ago, assuring the next generation that the man behind the music of `Toy Story' has a somewhat darker, mordant side."
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Sep 29, 2011
Words:270
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