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Monday, January 6, 2014

Song Of The Week: Randy Newman Covers Peter Gabriel

Randy Newman wins the Novello Award for 'PRS for Music Special International Award' presented by Peter Gabriel at the Grosvenor House in London on Thursday, May 16, 2013. (Mark Allan/Invision via AP)

Randy Newman, left, has covered the song “Big Time” by Peter Gabriel, right. The two are pictured together at the Novello Awards in London on May 16, 2013. (Mark Allan/Invision via AP)

As he does every week, NPR music writer and editor Stephen Thompson joins Here & Now’s Robin Young with a new song. This week’s song comes from a new album of Peter Gabriel covers called “And I’ll Scratch Yours.”

Four years ago, Peter Gabriel made a record called “Scratch My Back” — it’s him covering songs by his favorite musicians, with the idea that each one would return the favor and cover a Peter Gabriel song.

It took four years to gather all the recordings, and a few of the artists dropped out along the way, but the album of covers is finally out.

One of its most inspired pairings is the song “Big Time” performed by Randy Newman.

“To me, it’s a totally natural pairing of sensibilities,” Thompson says. “If you think of the original ‘Big Time,’ it’s a satirical song from 1986 — it was making fun of Wall Street excesses in the 1980s. But some people also at the time interpreted it as glorifying that lifestyle, which fits right in with a lot of the way Randy Newman does his own satirical material, where he takes on the persona of an antihero in ways that can be misinterpreted.”

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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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