Randy Newman — Baltimore
Album: Little Criminals
Avg rating:
7.3

Your rating:
Total ratings: 1099
Ratings histogram:
Released: 1977
Length: 3:56
Plays (last 30 days): 1
Beat-up little seagull
On a marble stair
Tryin' to find the ocean
Lookin' everywhere

Hard times in the city
In a hard town by the sea
Ain't nowhere to run to
There ain't nothin' here for free

Hooker on the corner
Waitin' for a train
Drunk lyin' on the sidewalk
Sleepin' in the rain

And they hide their faces
And they hide their eyes
'Cause the city's dyin'
And they don't know why

Oh, Baltimore
Man, it's hard just to live
Oh, Baltimore
Man, it's hard just to live, just to live

Get my sister Sandy
And my little brother Ray
Buy a big old wagon
Gonna haul us all away

Livin' in the country
Where the mountain's high
Never comin' back here
'Til the day I die

Oh, Baltimore
Man, it's hard just to live
Oh, Baltimore
Man, it's hard just to live, just to live
Comments (238)add comment
 thewiseking wrote:
Never could stand this guy and what's up with that contrived pseudo soulful voice he sings in? Did they teach little Randy minstrelsy when he was growing up in Beverly Hills?

 
I accept as your truth that you never could stand him. As if it matters. The only time I saw him perform I guess he was heavily into cocaine.  Sniffed a lot. Maybe that would be a reason to dislike him, for some. However, reality is more nuanced. He is a really good song writer. This song says more about an old American city that has suffered from the sort of hollowing out of industry, post-slavery sociological problems (Maryland was indeed a slave state), urban flight, racial discord, poor educational and other opportunities, etc. (and that's a lot of etcs.) than any single song I know. As a society we pretty much pay a modest amount of attention to the degradation of the urban centers, express some periodic concern, then move on to something/anything else. But the problem persists and festers. That is what this song is about, from my perspective. 
Never could stand this guy and what's up with that contrived pseudo soulful voice he sings in? Did they teach little Randy minstrelsy when he was growing up in Beverly Hills?
Love this song until the chorus when it homogenizes into mid 70s soft rockitude.
Love this song with Glenn Frey doing the (way too short) solo at the end.
I love the way you guys over the pond express your love or otherwise for your places in song titles.  We don't really get involved with that here, for some reason.  "Oh, Mangotsfield" just wouldn't have the same ring to it.
 mardisoninnc wrote:
I don't know what it is about him, but I just can't stand old Randy.

 
Same here.
There's something about his fake voice and overly "clever" lyrics which always perturbed me. 
His father however was Hollywood Royalty and a great talent. Scored Wuthering Heights, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Chaplin's City Lights and on and on and on
 melzabutch wrote:


 
Meanwhile,outside of Pleasant Valley


 Sodak1 wrote:
Did Nils Lofgren also do this song?

  On his 5th album "Nils".


Very smooth 7 -> 8
 phlattop wrote:
would have loved to have seen this used on "The Wire"

  

I'm just about to finish season 4.  Imagine my delight when this song came up on Radio Paradise as a timely volunteer.  I love Randy and I love him more when he writes, "And they hide their faces, And they hide their eyes, 'Cause the city's dyin', And they don't know why..."  I think Randy knows 'why'.

Reminds of when I was a teenager and the talk show said, "Intelligence isn't something you're born with and if you don't have now you can get it" and "Follow the money".  I was in the short line for the draft and the second round gasoline rationing/price hikes landed on us.  I didn't read much in those days and I didn't have many informed friends or relatives, but I knew three things for sure;  "we are being fucked"; "I am going to find out how" and "by whom".  It didn't take long, surety takes a while longer, but it grows like a virus when I commit to knowing and seeing.  

Get my sister Sandy, And my little brother Ray, Buy a big old wagon, Gonna haul us all away, Livin' in the country, Where the mountain's high, Never comin' back here, 'Til the day I die.


I don't know what it is about him, but I just can't stand old Randy.
Did Nils Lofgren also do this song?

 kingart wrote:
James Taylor's oh, Mexico in that oh, Baltimore. 

 

Noticed that, too.  Very similar.
Always liked his voice - amazing just how many hits and theme songs he's been responsible for!
Love this song. That's Glenn Frey on guitar.
Stop sign died in it's own tracks,City is calling.
          Just living wasn't enough.
Randy Newman!  The amazing human!

Thank you for playing ... brightens my day!

(Odd, given the lyrics.) 

The Atlanta-based crooner Nedric Nedo remakes Randy Newman's "Baltimore" with new original music composed by Wes Green.

Nedo reworks the lyrics for an introspective reflection on his childhood. His heartfelt vocals and Green's current production create an intriguing remake and vibe.

THE LINK IS BELOW
https://soundcloud.com/nedricnedo/baltimore-produced-by-wes-green 


He is an American treasure...And the song is unfortunately still poignant today...

 phlattop wrote:
would have loved to have seen this used on "The Wire"

 
Ooh, yeah. Me too!
Gooch58 wrote:
I grew up in DC and when I took a train to New York one time it went through parts of Baltimore that shocked me with their squalor. Believe me, at the time this song was written, Baltimore really was on the skids. Now things are better, but the thing that kills you about Baltimore is how much potential it has to be one of the great American Cities: A unique "Inner Harbor", great hospitals and medical care, great history, but so much entrenched poverty, crime, filth, that you know it never will happen. Our racial history brought this and other American cities to where they are now, and it seems just too hard to undo. As for the song - it's just great.  Haunting piano intro building to soaring chorus. I give it a strong 8.
 
kcar wrote:

I know parts of Baltimore are still squalid and ridden with poverty and crime, but I'm not ready to say as you do that Baltimore's revival "will never happen." Economic re-development, especially in a built-up urban setting, is very hard to do. But Baltimore, along with great hospitals and a number of colleges, has the advantage of being close to DC. It should be able to draw on that proximity to pull more federal funding and professionals working in DC towards Baltimore. 

One problem with urban re-development, though, is that the people involved don't always have a plan to seriously combat poverty and joblessness within the city. DC is going through major changes as white-collar workers are moving into the city, prompting an orgy of construction and renovation. That influx of money and new federal programs such as the Department of Homeland Security do pull in new businesses like restaurants and supermarkets which in turn provide employment for some poorer DC residents. But there's not enough programs to pull the DC residents long entrenched in poverty into regular employment in good jobs. Many of those residents simply can't afford the new DC and get pushed out into the outlying suburbs or have to leave the area altogether. 

My guess is that a similar trend will occur in Baltimore: young professionals re-develop pockets of Charm City and slowly push out the poorer people. Eventually places like DC and Baltimore will look like Paris: rich people living within the city limits, poorer people stuck in remote exurbs.  

 
I used to spend a lot of time in Baltimore. IMHO, despite the development in and around the Inner Harbor (e.g., Camden Yards), it hasn't changed all that much in the last 30 years. It's a city of ethnic/economic pockets and, therefore, challenges. I believe Baltimore's future resides in the integrity of its neighborhoods, diverse both ethnically and economically. If there is such a thing as a middle class economy and a middle class sensibility, Baltimore has a great chance of succeeding because of—as opposed to in spite of—its diversity. It is a great American city. I think Newman captured it perfectly. Then again so did "Diner" and "Hairspray."
 :+:_DL wrote:
Absolutely the worst.
I hear people talk about Randy Newman like he's a great songwriter !?!?!
Where's the proof? 

 
You're listening to it.
would have loved to have seen this used on "The Wire"
Ahh, how mondegreens do delight...

jademon wrote:
This song is more interesting if you change the word "Baltimore" to "Voldemort" while singing along.

 


This song is more interesting if you change the word "Baltimore" to "Voldemort" while singing along.
Randy Newman much like Lyle Lovett is one of the great American storytellers, although not so much now that he's doing all that Disney music.
 oldsaxon wrote:

What? How does that work? The Jewish people have a long and wonderful history which is being sadly tainted by the Isreali government's sad performance. I will not, however accept that anyone should be forced to "like jewish people for historic reasons", ever. People stand on their actions. Requiring someone to "like" someone solely because of their race is nearly as offensive as disliking them because of their race because it lumps everyone of that race into one type and we're not...any of us....of one type.
 
I'm sorry I forgot the {#Wink} smiley. It was a joke and a cynic reference to politically correct politics in his/her homecountry Germany. When Israël is involved in a discussion things get a little tensioned. Even in The Netherlands. And that all because of "don't mention the war" second world war. So I'm completely agreeing with what you wrote.
 
And yeah, English is my second (or thirth or fourth) language too. 
 Kaw wrote:

You are from Germany. You should like jewish people for historic reasons.

(Google Translate is your friend. In this case it would have done a better job in translating what you tried to tell us.)

 
What? How does that work? The Jewish people have a long and wonderful history which is being sadly tainted by the Isreali government's sad performance. I will not, however accept that anyone should be forced to "like jewish people for historic reasons", ever. People stand on their actions. Requiring someone to "like" someone solely because of their race is nearly as offensive as disliking them because of their race because it lumps everyone of that race into one type and we're not...any of us....of one type.

And get over the ESL thing. 
 :+:_DL wrote:
Absolutely the worst.
I hear people talk about Randy Newman like he's a great songwriter !?!?!
Where's the proof? 

 
Well, he was. But ever since he started doing movie scores, everything, he cranks out sounds like a bad Scott Joplin knock-off. 
 frank-peter wrote:
NO ONE make his / her a BUILT, what me belongs!
I like not every jewish people!!! BUT I like Randy Newman!
He make all, what he have! And This is that, what a christian do!
He is my friend! He gave me so much! He is a real friend!

Excuse me please! (About my very bad english)



 
You are from Germany. You should like jewish people for historic reasons.

(Google Translate is your friend. In this case it would have done a better job in translating what you tried to tell us.)
Anybody remember the Nils Lofgren cover of this?

It's on this album from '79:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nils_(album)

   


 frank-peter wrote:
NO ONE make his / her a BUILT, what me belongs!
I like not every jewish people!!! BUT I like Randy Newman!
He make all, what he have! And This is that, what a christian do!
He is my friend! He gave me so much! He is a real friend!

Excuse me please! (About my very bad english)



 
What does being Jewish or Christian have to do with a person's talent?
 Gooch58 wrote:
I grew up in DC and when I took a train to New York one time it went through parts of Baltimore that shocked me with their squalor. Believe me, at the time this song was written, Baltimore really was on the skids. Now things are better, but the thing that kills you about Baltimore is how much potential it has to be one of the great American Cities: A unique "Inner Harbor", great hospitals and medical care, great history, but so much entrenched poverty, crime, filth, that you know it never will happen. Our racial history brought this and other American cities to where they are now, and it seems just too hard to undo. As for the song - it's just great.  Haunting piano intro building to soaring chorus. I give it a strong 8. 

 
I know parts of Baltimore are still squalid and ridden with poverty and crime, but I'm not ready to say as you do that Baltimore's revival "will never happen." Economic re-development, especially in a built-up urban setting, is very hard to do. But Baltimore, along with great hospitals and a number of colleges, has the advantage of being close to DC. It should be able to draw on that proximity to pull more federal funding and professionals working in DC towards Baltimore. 

One problem with urban re-development, though, is that the people involved don't always have a plan to seriously combat poverty and joblessness within the city. DC is going through major changes as white-collar workers are moving into the city, prompting an orgy of construction and renovation. That influx of money and new federal programs such as the Department of Homeland Security do pull in new businesses like restaurants and supermarkets which in turn provide employment for some poorer DC residents. But there's not enough programs to pull the DC residents long entrenched in poverty into regular employment in good jobs. Many of those residents simply can't afford the new DC and get pushed out into the outlying suburbs or have to leave the area altogether. 

My guess is that a similar trend will occur in Baltimore: young professionals re-develop pockets of Charm City and slowly push out the poorer people. Eventually places like DC and Baltimore will look like Paris: rich people living within the city limits, poorer people stuck in remote exurbs.  
James Taylor's oh, Mexico in that oh, Baltimore. 
 :+:_DL wrote:
Absolutely the worst.
I hear people talk about Randy Newman like he's a great songwriter !?!?!
Where's the proof? 

 
If you don't get it try just moving on and not being a dick about it.
 :+:_DL wrote:
Absolutely the worst.
I hear people talk about Randy Newman like he's a great songwriter !?!?!
Where's the proof? 
 
In his body of work.
I think Randy Newman ranks as one of the great American story tellers, although maybe not so much after Short People became a hit.
Absolutely the worst.
I hear people talk about Randy Newman like he's a great songwriter !?!?!
Where's the proof? 
Great artist who's early work I never heard much of. So thus I'm glad to hear some on RP. Thanks!
 frank-peter wrote:
NO ONE make his / her a BUILT, what me belongs!
I like not every jewish people!!! BUT I like Randy Newman!
He make all, what he have! And This is that, what a christian do!
He is my friend! He gave me so much! He is a real friend!

Excuse me please! (About my very bad english)
 
Sorry, FP, but Newman isn't a self-made man.  he comes from a wealthy, connected and very talented Hollywood family.  His father made it big composing sound tracks for movies, and act RN has gotten into lately, since he no longer writes witty and satirical lyrics as he did in his prime (e.g., "Sail Away").  He WAS a genuine talent, but now he's another rich Hollywood hack.  Sorry to burst your bubble.  BTW, your English grammar is far better than my German.
NO ONE make his / her a BUILT, what me belongs!
I like not every jewish people!!! BUT I like Randy Newman!
He make all, what he have! And This is that, what a christian do!
He is my friend! He gave me so much! He is a real friend!

Excuse me please! (About my very bad english)


 brookap wrote:
 Tim_in_N_FL wrote:
I must say this is pretty good stuff.  Nothing like the more recent Randy Newman blather as parodied here:
http://www.220.ro/desene-animate/Family-Guy-Randy-Newman/O4pfCdxLrx/
Spot-on parody! Thanks for sharing, Tim. 

Randy Newman's sense of humour is of such a higher quality than Family Guy's that it's not even funny anymore. ;-)
FG can parody all they want.
Listen all you fools out there
Go on and love me, I don't care
Oh, it's lonely at the top

Saw RN in concert in a smallish venue recently. Just him and his piano. He puts on a great show.
I'm not a huge RN fan, like my friend Isom, but this song of his does do it for me...


Long Live Travis T. Hipp ..... 
 What Gooch/you said

meinthecorner wrote:

What you said!
 


Are there short people in Baltimore?
 Gooch58 wrote:
I grew up in DC and when I took a train to New York one time it went through parts of Baltimore that shocked me with their squalor. Believe me, at the time this song was written, Baltimore really was on the skids. Now things are better, but the thing that kills you about Baltimore is how much potential it has to be one of the great American Cities: A unique "Inner Harbor", great hospitals and medical care, great history, but so much entrenched poverty, crime, filth, that you know it never will happen. Our racial history brought this and other American cities to where they are now, and it seems just too hard to undo. As for the song - it's just great.  Haunting piano intro building to soaring chorus. I give it a strong 8. 
 
What you said!

that seque did Ben Folds no favours.

steady_steve wrote:

I've heard Bill do some great sets, but never one that made me feel obligated to log in and post - Ben Folds, Fred Jones into Baltimore by Randy Newman is genius.  And then to top if all off, a few songs later, Life's What You Make It by Talk Talk and right into the Killers.  I stand in awe (well, I'm actually sitting on the couch, but you know what I mean).  Oh and then as I am writing this - Tom Waits, Jockey Full of Bourbon - get out of my mind Bill !!