In addition to covering the life, music, and philosophy of Randy Newman, an enigmatic and audacious American composer, this biography looks at why he has been so largely unacknowledgedand misunderstoodby listeners and fans alike. Delving into the reasons for Newman's peripheral status on the cultural landscape, this suggests that, at heart, he has always been a musical outsider, that he has even built his mainstream career on a brilliant disguise. Using the conventions of American pop as a devious strategy, Newman incorporates into his barbed and satirical work the role of the untrustworthy narrator. In his songs, he wickedly enacts character dramas in order to play a variety of dubious roles: a slave trader in "Sail Away," a stalker in "Suzanne," a born-again yuppie in "It's Money That I Love," and an American demagogue in "Political Science." This is an illuminating portrait of an American artist as a masked man, an artful dodger who remains an American music enigma.

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