'It's very hard to get rich and famous at a young age and handle it well," says Randy Newman, sitting by his hotel window, high above the sunlit bustle of the Strand in London. "I can't think of anyone who did."
On the close-knit, overheated circuit of singer-songwriters in Los Angeles during the late 60s and early 70s, Newman was the outsider, the man who watched several of his peers - Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt, Neil Young - reap millions, while his own career followed a more quixotic, cultish path. Four decades on, he thinks he got the better deal. "Some of them got through it and now they're fine," he continues, "and some of them died, and some of them are assholes, and some of them don't have money any more. But no one was the same person."
So was he ... "Saved?" he suggests. "Yeah, maybe. The numbers say that I wouldn't have handled it particularly well. Y'know, if I took pills, I would take more. Thank God I didn't like cocaine. I think I'd have been pretty bad as a person. And maybe I was anyway, but I don't think I could have handled [success]. Fortunately I wrote stuff that people didn't like." A chuckle gurgles up. "I dodged a bullet there."