Randy Newman’s Good Old Boys is a thematic piece centered around Johnny Cutler–later left unnamed–and the social, political and economic forces in his Southern life. Released in 1974, the emotional core of the album was overshadowed by the misinterpreted “Rednecks,” its timeless chorus alternately outraging and tickling all sorts of squeamish white people. The remainder of Good Old Boys is deftly sweet and pointedly humorous, much like the prickly Newman himself.
“Birmingham” is one of Newman’s more serene songs. It appears in a protean form on the Johnny Cutler’s Birthday demos Newman laid down as thumbnail sketches for Reprise executives in 1973. “Birmingham Redux,” a bookend later cut from Good Old Boys, accompanies it. Both songs have Newman muttering and fumbling, trying to string a narrative framework to illustrate the concept in which the album couched as a whole.
The remainder of Johnny Cutler’s Birthday is equally enlightening and can be found as a bonus disc on the 2002 reissue of Good Old Boys.