Krist Novoselic’s column on music and politics runs every Tuesday on Reverb.

Krist Novoselic’s column on music and politics runs every Tuesday on Reverb. He writes about the music he’s been listening to every Friday.One of my favorite records is Randy Newman’s Good Old Boys. It’s a sonic delight with its melodies, arrangements, strings, and horns supporting Newman’s vocals and piano. The work has a lot to say about race, politics, and history through the composer’s impression of the southern United States. Released in 1974, much of the message is enduring and speaks to current events.The song “Louisiana 1927” is about the Mississippi river flood of that year. It paints a picture of the high water in parts of New Orleans. It’s haunting how his interpretation speaks precisely to the 2005 disaster in the city after Hurricane Katrina. The song was played by Newman and others during fund-raising broadcasts soon after the tragedy. I opened my radio show that weekend with a shout-out of solidarity from the mouth of the Columbia river to the beleaguered folks on the mouth of the Mississippi, then gave “Louisiana 1927” a spin. A lady called the station, obviously in tears. She had heard the lyrics “Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline” and told me her family was there.The powerful song was performed by Aaron Neville on A Concert for Hurricane Relief. On the same TV broadcast, while making an appeal with Mike Myers, Kanye West broke away from the script to charge that “President Bush doesn’t care about black people.” In “Louisiana 1927,” Newman quotes an indifferent President Coolidge, who said ” . . . ain’t it a shame what the river has done to this poor cracker’s land.” Just after he’d been elected to a second term, the 2005 flood was the start of G.W. Bush’s slide into unpopularity. He had his own careless quote when he praised a federal official during the debacle. Partisans seized on the statement to portray the president as ineffectual.Another tune is “Kingfish”–the nickname of Huey P. Long, the populist governor of Louisiana during the Depression. Newman lauds Long: “Who took on the Standard Oil men and whipped their ass, just like he promised he’d do?” Many people today feel resentment against big oil companies. Echoing the rhetoric of the Katrina flooding, partisans are using the BP oil spill in the Gulf to tar President Obama.No matter how far the U.S. has come in terms of race, tensions around the issue still seem to surface from the murky depths. Currently in the news is Tea Partier Mark Williams–a vocal critic of the proposed mosque near Ground Zero–who recently wrote a mocking letter about “colored people.” The first tune on Good Old Boys is “Rednecks,” with the line “We don’t know our ass from a hole in the ground.” Good Old Boys is solid from start to finish, with plenty of other songs to enjoy. Randy Newman is a master songwriter. He paints images with great skill. Some of the themes on Good Old Boys can be hard, but the melodies and instruments are quite sweet.