I wrote this parody of Simon Smith and His Amazing Dancing Bear for NewsRevue around the time of the Newbury by-election in April 1993.
Very little was known about Tony Blair back then; indeed I couldn’t even spell his name. I cannot quite remember what made me spot him as an up and coming politician; perhaps it was just that he had a prominent role in that by-election campaign. Perhaps I simply latched on to the name Tony Blair fitting perfectly where “Dancing Bear” goes in the song.
Anyway, when John Smith tragically died suddenly a year later and Tony Blair really came to prominence, I was able to recycle this song quite remorselessly at NewsRevue for a while – click here.
The original song, Simon Smith and His Amazing Dancing Bear, is by Randy Newman, but was made famous by the Alan Price Set.
The latter version is the very first record I ever owned; I seem to recall nagging an auntie to get it for me. I also recall my father moving my teddy bear’s legs to make it dance for me when the song came on the radio. I was four-on-five when the record came out. Ahhh.
I don’t think Newman had teddy bears in mind when he wrote the song, but it is ironic (at least for me) that Newman went on to write the scores for the wonderful Toy Story movies. But I digress.
So was I the first political satirist to give Tony Blair the song treatment? Must have been up there with the first pack, if not the very first. I have left the spelling mistake on Blair[e]’s name in tact, for old time’s sake.
♬ BECKETT, SMITH, CLAIRE SHORT AND ZANY TONY BLAIRE ♬
(To the Tune of “Simon Smith And The Amazing Dancing Bear”)
JOHN SMITH:I may go out to Newbury,
To visit Doobrie,
Who’s standing there;
After a lot of thought,
I’ll take Beckett, Short,
And young Tony Blaire;
THE TEAM:The Liberals, deplore us,
The press all, ignore us;
ALL BUT BLAIRE:Oh who would think that Tony Blaire,
Would be so neglected everywhere,
It’s just amazing how square people can be.
(Tony Blaire tries to do a zany dance to prove how unsquare he is: it transpires that he is actually quite square himself. He may try to repeat the dance at the end of each verse.)
THE TEAM:We go to ghastly places,
Like Newbury races,
And Newbury fair;
Our low poll is a myth,
We’ve got Beckett, Smith,
Short and Tony Blaire;
Voters are choosing,
The Tories are losing;
BECKETT/BLAIRE:Oh who would think that John and Claire,
Would appeal to dames with blue rinsed hair,
But Newbury voters out there seem very pleased.
(During which John Smith makes a short speech to the “voters” in the audience)
JOHN SMITH:Don’t be fooled by talk of this tactical voting nonsense. The best way to get the Tories out of Newbury is by voting Labour, the natural party of opposition. Thank you.
THE TEAM:Who needs alliance,
To gain triumphs?
The Tories get the minor share,
But we split the vote so the trophy’s theirs,
We’re Beckett, Smith, Claire Short and zany Tony Blaire.
copyright © Ian Harris 1993