'Short People' Singer-Songwriter Reacts to Selection: 'It's Not Nothing'
"Years ago I was up for it in some kind of way, and I hoped I'd get in," he tells Billboard. "When I didn't, I thought maybe after I died I'd get in. My family could go there and see me. But I'm glad I didn't have to die to get in."
ROCK HALL HEADLINES
Newman was among the eight artists and bands announced Tuesday as the Rock Hall's class of 2013, joining Rush, Heart, Public Enemy, Donna Summer, Albert King and non-performers Lou Adler and Quincy Jones. The ceremony will be held April 18 in Los Angeles and filmed for broadcast later on HBO.
The two-time Academy Award winner and five-time Grammy winner was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002 and was named a Disney Legend in 2007. But he says the Rock Hall packs a different kind of wallop as an honor.
"Well, it's world famous, and it's somehow a bigger thing in the eyes of the world than the Songwriter's Hall of Fame or a star on Hollywood Boulevard," Newman explains. "The (Rock and Roll) Hall of Fame has other resonance, like the Baseball Hall of Fame has tremendous kind of historical reverence to it. There's a great number of people I respect a great deal in there. It's not a small thing. It's nothing I would ever think, 'Oh, it's nothing.' It's not nothing. It's significant. I'm very happy."
The Rock Hall honor comes during an equally significant year for some of Newman's best-known works, including the 40th anniversary of his "Sail Away" album and the 35th for "Little Criminals," which contained his biggest, and most misunderstood, hit, "Short People."
"It's astonishing to me that it's all lasted the way it has and has had such lasting power," Newman says. "I think everyone who was around in '68 and '70 must feel the same way. There's been quality in every decade; Everyone thinks 'Oh, it's all better in the old days,' but, y'know, it's an amazing thing that it's had this kind of longevity. I never would have thought it."
Newman is currently working on the score and soundtrack for Pixar's "Monsters Inc." sequel "Monsters University." But he also intends to get to work on a new album of songs, his first since "Harps and Angels" in 2008.
"I never will stop doing that," he promises, although he adds that there's no stash of songs waiting for him to record, so he'll be starting from scratch. "I have to sit down and work at writing them. I don't get ideas very much unless I have to have them. I have to open the process. But I'm confident about it. The last two albums I've made are as well as I do. There was no decline in quality."