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"Eminem, that's some smart stuff," Newman opines. "Funny stuff. 'I'm Sorry I Gave You Mushrooms' and 'The Fan Letter' are very, very funny-as funny as anything I've heard in 30 years. I was shocked that he could do comedy on that level. The rest of that shit, yelling at his mother and all that, I don't know about-I've never heard it. But the things I've heard have been plenty good."
Newman has also ventured into the world of theater, with 1995's Faust-a rock opera based on the famous German morality play-and this summer's The Education of Randy Newman, a production based on his life and songs that recently finished a run at South Coast Rep.
"They did a good job on it," he says. "It seems like the kind of thing that would horrify me, but they sang the songs well and did the music well. It sold out every night, and people who would never come to see me-or who, if they did come, wouldn't last one minute-were there for this. There was a context for the songs-you understood them better, and they laughed and got it. These were people I wouldn't even play those songs for. There were 70-year-olds and there were kids there. It was amazing."
Amaze yourselves, kiddies and oldsters, when Randy Newman plays the Sun Theatre on Friday night.
LEE ROCKER and SCOTTY MOORE will reprise their well-received performance at this year's Hootenanny fest on Saturday night at the Coach House. Moore was Elvis Presley's original guitarist, and his work on the seminal Sun Sessions in the mid-'50s became something of a blueprint for rockabilly guitarists that endures to this day. Laguna Beach resident Rocker was the bassist for the Stray Cats, who fomented a rockabilly revival 25 years later that never fully waned and has been gaining increasing momentum in recent years. Rocker also acts as something of a self-appointed spokesman for the genre:
"My statement on the meaning of rockabilly comes after sitting down and watching VH1 last night," he says. "The state of commercial music is so bad out there that I can't tolerate it. To me, this is the real thing-this is great American rock _ roll. It's alive and well and living in the underground. Hopefully, we can get it out of the underground, but the underground isn't a bad place to be."
RANDY NEWMAN AT THE SUN THEATRE, 2200 E. KATELLA AVE., ANAHEIM, (714) 712-2700. FRI., 8:30 P.M. $35-$42.40; LEE ROCKER AND SCOTTY MOORE AT THE COACH HOUSE, 33157 CAMINO CAPISTRANO, SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, (949) 496-8930. SAT., 8 P.M. $17.50.