A Few Words in Defense of Our Country

The Biography of Randy Newman

Coming Soon


By Robert Hilburn

Formats and Prices





  1. Audiobook Download (Unabridged) $31.99
  2. ebook $16.99 $21.99 CAD
  3. Hardcover $34.00 $44.00 CAD

The definitive biography of songwriter Randy Newman, told with his full cooperation, by acclaimed biographer and longtime Los Angeles Times music critic, Robert Hilburn
Randy Newman is widely hailed as one of America’s all-time greatest songwriters, equally skilled in the sophisticated melodies and lyrics of the Gershwin-Porter era and the cultural commentary of his own generation, with Bob Dylan and Paul Simon among his most ardent admirers. While tens of millions around the world can hum “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” his disarming centerpiece for Toy Story, most of them would be astonished to learn that the heart of Newman’s legacy is in the dozens of brilliant songs that detail the injustices, from racism to class inequality, that have contributed to the division of our nation. Rolling Stone declared that a single Newman song, “Sail Away,” tells us more about America than “The Star-Spangled Banner.” And yet, his legacy remains largely undocumented in book form—until now.
In A FEW WORDS IN DEFENSE OF OUR COUNTRY, veteran music journalist Robert Hilburn presents the definitive portrait of an American legend. Hilburn has known Newman since his club debut at the Troubadour in 1970, and the two have maintained a connection in the decades since, conversing over the course of times good and bad. Though Newman has long refused to talk with potential biographers, he now gives Hilburn unprecedented access not only to himself but also to his archives, as well as his family, friends, and collaborators. Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, John Williams, Linda Ronstadt, Don Henley, Bonnie Raitt, Chuck D, James Taylor, and New York Times’ Pulitzer-winning columnists, Thomas Friedman and Wesley Morris, among others, contributed to the book. In addition to exploring Newman’s prolific career and the evolution of his songwriting, A FEW WORDS IN DEFENSE OF OUR COUNTRY also dives into his childhood and early influences, his musical family that ruled Hollywood movie scores for decades, the relationships that have provided inspiration for his songs, and so much more.
As thought-provoking and thorough as it is tender, this book is an overdue tribute to the legendary songwriter whose music has long reflected and challenged the America we know today.


On Sale
Oct 22, 2024
Hachette Audio

Robert Hilburn

About the Author

Robert Hilburn was the chief pop music critic and pop music editor of the Los Angeles Times from 1970 through 2005. Since then, he has focused his attentions on writing biographies of some of the most celebrated musicians in modern history, including John Lennon, Johnny Cash, and Paul Simon. He lives in Los Angeles. 

Learn more about this author