Teddy Bears' Picnic
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"Teddy Bears' Picnic" is a song consisting of a melody by American composer John Walter Bratton, written in 1907, and lyrics added by Irish songwriter Jimmy Kennedy in 1932. It remains popular as a children's song, having been recorded by numerous artists over the decades. Kennedy lived at Staplegrove Elm and is buried in Staplegrove Church, Taunton, Somerset, England. Local folklore has it that the small wooded area between the church and Staplegrove Scout Hut was the inspiration for his lyrics.
Composer John W. Bratton originally called the song the "Teddy Bear Two-Step". An early recording was made by the Black Diamond Band for Zonophone records in 1908. Around this time it was also recorded by Arthur Pryor's marching band.
The song was subsequently recorded by Bing Crosby, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Frank DeVol, Jackie Lynton, Rosemary Clooney, Dave Van Ronk, Jerry Garcia, John Inman, Trout Fishing in America, and Anne Murray.
In popular culture
- A two-step appears briefly in the musical score by Robert Israel to accompany Buster Keaton's 1926 silent film The General.
- The song was occasionally used as a background theme in the cartoon series Looney Tunes.
- In the late 1940s and early 1950s a version performed by organist Ethel Smith was used as the theme song for the Big Jon and Sparkie radio program, a children's show presented on weekdays and Saturday mornings. The Saturday show was later named "No School Today".
- The wartime BBC sitcom Dad's Army uses the song in an episode from 1970 called The Big Parade.
- In 1983 Green Tiger Press turned Kennedy's lyrics into a children's book, with illustrations by company co-founder Sandra Darling (under the name Alexandra Day). Original printings included a 7" record, with the Bing Crosby recording on the A side, and a recording by a local klezmer band, dubbed "The Bearcats", on the B side.
- The Val Rosing/Henry Hall version is perhaps the best-known in the UK and was featured in the Dennis Potter drama The Singing Detective from 1986.
- The song features prominently in Peter Greenaway's 1986 film A Zed & Two Noughts, and is sung by characters in the film.
- Composer Grant Kirkhope concluded that some of his music from the video game Banjo-Kazooie had been based on "Teddy Bear's Picnic".
- The Val Rosing/Henry Hall version was used as background music in a 2006 Microsoft Xbox commercial.
- A reversed sample from the song was included by Boards of Canada in the track "A is to B as B is to C" from their album Geogaddi.
- Teddy Bear's Picnic is sung to Boog (Martin Lawrence) in Open Season as a lullaby. Later on in the movie, Elliot (Ashton Kutcher), sings his revision of the song.
- The Val Rosing/Henry Hall version was used in a 2011 Audi commercial to advertise a night vision feature.
- In the 2012 Pretty Little Liars Halloween episode, Mona sings a line from it in the opening scene.
Use by BBC Radio Engineers
The 1932 Henry Hall recording was of especially good quality with a large tonal range. It was used for more than 30 years by BBC audio engineers (up until the early 1960s) to test and calibrate the frequency response of audio equipment.
- "Visit Somerset (Nursery Rymes & Children's TV) - visitsomerset.co.uk". Retrieved 4 Jun 2012.
- "Remembering Val Rosing - The Man Who Sang Teddy Bears Picnic - valrosing.com". Retrieved 4 Jun 2012.
- Teddy Bears' Picnic on YouTube
- "Teddy Bears' Picnic" Mp3 and lyrics