Short People

Repertoire description: 

This is a song from Randy Newman’s 1977 album “Little Criminals”. The verses and chorus are lyrically constructed as a pointed attack on the short. The bridge (originally sung by Glenn Frey), in contrast, states "short people are just the same as you and I." Newman interprets the song to be about "prejudice", as was widely thought, but added that it was "about a lunatic". As with many of his songs, such as "Rednecks", Newman wrote the song from the point of view of a biased narrator, shining the light of ridicule on the narrow-minded extreme viewpoints of such people.

Like Dire Straits' 1985 hit single "Money for Nothing" which used the same lyrical technique, the song was misunderstood by many listeners, who wrongly assumed that it reflected the performer's personal viewpoint. In 1978, in the interests of political correctness by those who just don’t get it, legislation was introduced in the state of Maryland to make it illegal to play "Short People" on the radio. Contrary to popular myth, the bill did not obtain enough votes to pass.

“Short People” could be a euphemism for any group of people who, by their difference, come under attack from others, solely because of that difference. When their detractors come out and actually express their extreme views, the patent ridiculousness of their ideas is brought to light, creating a role reversal where they become the object of ridicule. Listen to the song and have a chuckle – not at the description of short people, but at the people who really do hold such views about others.

Humour with some deep teaching – go figure!!

Repertoire Style: 

Rep music by: 

Randy Newman, arranged Simon Carrington

Rep lyrics by: 

Randy Newman