Behind The Song: “Spider-Man” (1967) by Paul Francis Webster and Bob Harris

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Spider-Man! Spider-Man! Does Whatever A Spider Can!

How many times have you sung along with this perfect cartoon theme song? 10? 10-million?

Today, Spider-Man is one of the most lucrative and popular Marvel characters. However, back in the ’60s, he was just “your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.” Humble, but still beloved.

The original theme song for the 1967 show of the same name was written by Paul Francis Webster and Bob Harris.

Webster, who was born in New York City, was an acclaimed lyricist who won three Academy Awards for Best Original Song and was nominated 16 times for the award.

Harris, who was also born in New York City, was a composer. He is also credited with writing the theme for the 1962 film Lolita.

The Spider-Man theme was recorded at RCA Studios in Toronto, Canada, where the cartoon itself was also produced. The original song featured 12 Canadian vocalists, including members of the Billy Van Singers and the Laurie Bower Singers groups. (Sadly, the singers were only paid for the day, with no residuals from the song, which has gone on to immortality.)

Today, the theme song remains an essential part of Spider-Man’s lore. It was even sung as a parody in the 2007 film The Simpsons Movie, with Homer playing with his pet pig.

The theme song was also featured in the 2002 Spider-Man movie and the 2004 film Spider-Man 2. In those, buskers performed the song on the street. And both films feature the song at the end credits. The 2002 movie featured the original theme, while the 2004 film featured a rendition by Michael Bublé. And the soundtrack for the 2002 movie features a rendition by Aerosmith.

In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the song shows up as Peter Parker’s ringtone (Parker, is, of course, the secret identity of Spider-Man).

More recently, the theme is featured in the 2017 movie Spider-Man: Homecoming during the intro to the film. The following year, the song shows up in the Oscar-winning animated movie, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

The song has also appeared in popular Spider-Man video games.

The Distillers have covered the song, as have, perhaps most prominently, the American punk rock band the Ramones, who recorded a rendition for a tribute album Saturday Morning: Cartoons’ Greatest Hits

So, while the original theme is 55 years old, it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere. Just like its protagonist, the web-slinger, himself.

Spiderman, Spiderman!
Does whatever a spider he can
Spins a web, any size
Catches thieves, just like flies
Look out!
Here comes the Spiderman!

Indeed.

Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images

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