Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear
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"Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear" is a song written by Randy Newman, about a sincere young man of modest means named Simon Smith who entertains affluent ("well-fed") members of the public with his dancing bear.
Newman later said the song was a major stepping point in his writing style. "That was the first one I wrote like that. I was writing a song, believe it or not, for Frank Sinatra, Jr. And it was called something like “Susie” or “Mary” and I just all of a sudden couldn’t do it. So I ended up somewhere with “coat to wear” and “dancing bear”. There I was, and I just sort of followed it on. And then I was never the same. And I never wrote particularly conventional songs after that."
It was popularized in the UK by the Alan Price Set under the title "Simon Smith and His Amazing Dancing Bear", where it reached #4 in 1967. The song was also covered by such diverse singers as Harry Nilsson, Morrissey, Harpers Bizarre, Bobby Short, Akiko Yano, and the band Okkervil River. It appeared in the first episode of The Muppet Show, sung by the character Scooter as Simon Smith, with Fozzie Bear as the dancing bear.
- Lydia Hutchinson. "Happy Birthday, Randy Newman". Performing Songwriter.
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