Short People (2:53)

Cover of Little Criminals

From Little Criminals and 25 other releases

“Short People” is a song by Randy Newman from his 1977 album Little Criminals. The verses and chorus seem to be a pointed attack on the short. The bridge (sung by Glenn Frey), in contrast, states “short people are just the same as you and I.” Newman confirms that the song is 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. 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. This caused some to find Newman’s sarcasm to be offensive, with one music critic comparing him to Adolf Hitler.
Newman would later grow to dislike the song and its success, eventually calling it a “bad break,” a “novelty record like The Chipmunks”, and said it caused him to receive several threats regarding its misinterpreted message.However, it would end up being included in almost every one of his greatest hits albums.
Although Newman had never charted a single before, and his previous album Good Old Boys had been his first to reach the Billboard Top 150, “Short People” soon gained attention as a novelty song. The song consequently became a major hit on radio, staying at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and being only kept from reaching number one by the Bee Gees’s “Stayin’ Alive”.

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  • bohemian_chic

    Randy Newman is one of our best (and misunderstood), most versatile pop songwriters... a songwriter for thinking people.

    14 Sep 6:02pm Reply
  • svalbar

    Short People got no reason...

    24 Jul 4:01pm Reply
  • silversurfer250

    This song is widely misinterpreted, which generated a great deal of exposure for the song and controversy for Newman. On the surface, the song is making fun of little people, but "short" is meant in a figurative sense, intending to poke fun at people who are short-tempered and small-minded, which is quite the opposite of the literal meaning. A lot of people didn't get the joke and thought of Newman as a bigot. Many radio stations refused to play it. http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=6188

    28 Jun 5:19pm Reply
  • Redeyexpress

    Yeah, and they usually have big guns!

    27 Dec 2012 Reply
  • u2theedge

    short people got no reason to live - sometimes it sounds true

    8 Dec 2012 Reply
  • Goodevil1345

    "I guess uhh, people misunderstood me no, I wasn't joking, short people really do got no reason to live" -- Randy Newman

    20 Jun 2012 Reply
  • LondonLouis

    Good complex listening.

    28 Mar 2012 Reply
  • jakobdorof

    One of the best tracks released in 1977. [2]

    19 Nov 2011 Reply
  • miaminahmo

    this song captures me so well. DON'T WANT NO SHORT PEOPLE ROUND HERE!

    10 Feb 2011 Reply
  • ctd55

    As always with Newman, if the song makes you feel like you need to sing along, you can be sure you're gonna feel bad about yourself after singing those lyrics. Still, at least you might learn something, since these are unusually insightful lyrics about prejudice: the way the whole song suggests that people tend to mix up aesthetic and moral failings ("short people are evil because they're ugly," or is it the other way around?), and the seemingly out-of-place bridge that suggests you can hold liberal platitudes in your head ("we're all brothers and stuff, man") while still being a nasty bigot. In short, this is the best song ever recorded about confirmation bias. Once you've decided you hate some type, everything about them just adds to your impression of their awfulness. Smart stuff, and still fun as all get out.

    31 Oct 2009 Reply
  • LennartS1994

    nice song

    24 Oct 2009 Reply
  • SubmarinerOne

    So brilliant!

    22 Jan 2009 Reply
  • DJ-RAM

    GREAT SONG!

    9 Oct 2008 Reply
  • branleur

    Truest song evar1!

    10 Sep 2008 Reply
  • Kilgal

    One of the best tracks released in 1977.

    27 Jul 2008 Reply
  • HendrixFan42

    great song

    21 May 2008 Reply
  • like_a_spatula

    Grubby little fingers, dirty little minds.

    20 Dec 2007 Reply
  • klaashermans

    Short people got no reason to live, dumti dumti dum.

    1 Jul 2006 Reply
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