Song of the Day #1,618: ‘Red Bandana’ – Randy Newman

randy_newman_land_of_dreamsHere’s an odd little song from Randy Newman’s 1988 album Land of Dreams.

This album, the only studio record Newman released between 1983 and 1999, is a bit of a mixed bag. It starts off with his most autobiographical work — several songs that describe his childhood in New Orleans.

Better known are the late-album tracks ‘It’s Money that Matters’ and ‘I Want You to Hurt Like I Do,’ each with Newman’s typical satirical edge. Also featured is ‘Masterman and Baby J,’ Newman’s ill-advised parody (I think) of a rap song.

I’m not entirely sure what to make of ‘Red Bandana.’ It utilizes the spoken word narrative style Newman is fond of in its verses to describe a homecoming complicated by the titular headgear. I don’t know what the red bandana represents, if anything. Perhaps he is a member of the Bloods?

Left Los Angeles a short while ago
Flew ‘cross the country back to Buffalo
Walked around through the sleet and the snow
With a red bandana on my head
Saw my momma on 12th and Grand
Standing in the alley with the junkyard man
They were both so loaded they could hardly stand
Talkin’ ’bout going to Mexico
I said “Momma I was born
Out there I was born again
Been clear to California and back
Was out there so long many times I thought I was dead”
She said, “Sonny what’s that you got wrapped around your head?”

It’s a Red Bandana
It’s a Red Bandana
It’s a Red Bandana
It’s from Hollywood USA

Looked for the woman I used to love
Seen her in a bar off the Harlem road
Talking in a booth with Charley Hobbs
And this ugly little dude whom I didn’t know

She said “Honey you’re back I’m so glad
When you was gone I was so sad
You come in here lookin’ so bad
With that red bandana on your head
With that red bandana on your head”

Yes! It’s a Red Bandana
It’s a Red Bandana
It’s a Red Bandana
And it’s red just like your blood is


One thought on “Song of the Day #1,618: ‘Red Bandana’ – Randy Newman

  1. Dana says:

    I heard “it’s money that matters” the other day as it randomly popped up on my iTunes. It’s a decent enough song and there are some decent songs on the album, but overall it’s probably one of his weaker albums. Much of it just sounds dated and not in a good way.

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