From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
- see dwarf
"Short People" is a song by Randy Newman from his 1977 album Little Criminals. The lyrics describe the many deficiencies that supposedly are exhibited by the short individuals, as demonstrated by the line They got little hands and little eyes and they walk around tellin' great big lies.
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, although some saw it as offensive. The song consequently became a major hit on radio, staying at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and being only kept from reaching #1 by Debby Boone's You Light Up My Life. It follows a basic musical formula, with bass and drums centering on Newman's catchy pop piano line in the key of A. A small brass section and an electric guitar occasionally rise into the mix.
In 1978, 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 pass. Although Newman was often seen as mean-spirited, it is generally assumed by those who know about him that he wrote the song as a commentary on how some people treated others who did not live up to society's rigid standards.