The Unicorn

Album: The Unicorn (1967)
Charted: 7

Songfacts®:

  • A unicorn is a mythical beast similar to a horse but with a horn coming out of its forehead. This song is based on the Biblical story of Noah's Ark, and it explains that Noah left without the unicorn, and that's why we don't see them today.
  • This was written by Shel Silverstein, a famous children's author who also wrote adult material for Playboy magazine. Silverstein's nephew Mitch Myers, who wrote the book Silverstein Around the World, says: "What seems to be a timeless Irish folk song was written by a Jewish guy from Chicago. And Shel had written it and recorded it. But back then, not everyone wrote their own material. They were looking for material. And it was just a good fit. It was a very straightforward, simple, lovely melody, and the timeless folksiness of it was complemented by the Irish Rovers' - I'm not going to say 'accent' - but their sound. You know, their very, very ethnic sound just made it that much more magical. Many people think that Shel wrote 'Puff The Magic Dragon.' I'm like, no, no, no, it's a unicorn.

    I would say that Shel was more of a student of fables and legends and folk tales more than he was trying to deliver any kind of a religious message. And I think he found using these common universal folk tales was an efficient way to communicate to a large group of people." (Learn more about Shel Silverstein in our interview with Mitch Myers.)
  • This is a very popular sing-a-long song for both kids and adults. There are gestures that go along with the animals.

Comments: 8

  • Irish Rovers from Canadaand the long-awaited sequel The Continuing Story of The Unicorn https://youtu.be/jB3MKGCRfRA
  • Irish Rovers from CanadaHere is The Unicorn song in Concert on The Irish Rovers 50th Anniversary television special https://youtu.be/mN-uA9CiV_w
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyJust an added fact to the next post below:
    "The Unicorn" by the Irish Rovers peaked at #2 {for 1 week} on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart on May 19th, 1968...
    The week it was at #2, the #1 record for that week was "The Good, The Bad And The Ugly" by Hugo Montenegro and Orchestra & Chorus.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 1st 1968, the Irish Rovers performed "The Unicorn" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    Three months earlier on March 17th, 1968 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #77; and on May 19th it peaked at #7 (for 1 weeks) and spent 12 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #2 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
    On the same 'Bandstand' show the group sang "(The Puppet Song) Whiskey On Sunday"; it stayed on the Top 100 for 7 weeks, peaking at #75.
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxSilverstein was one of a kind. Would write charming kid stuff like this or lyrics so raw that no station would play them.
  • B.l. from Barry, TxThey used to play this song every morning on the oldies station, 103.5, in Austin, Texas from the time I entered junior high to the time I graduated high school. The DJ that played it was a former TV weatherman who considered himself much funniner and more clever than he really was on-air and that incessant playing really made me dislike this song. Luckily, I don't feel that way any more, but I'd rather listen to "The Unicorn" every once and a while from now on!
  • Camille from Toronto, OhI think I'm the only person in my neck of the woods who remembers this song from when I was a little Catholic girl growing up in a small town. I knew all about Noah and his arc but the church never seemed to include this part of the story. Lol. The Irish accent and the delivery of the line "and that's why you never see unicorns.....to this very day"--very magical. And every little kid seems to see pictures of unicorns and this just explained so clearly why they no longer existed and seemed quite believable.
  • Clarissa from Martinsburg, WvSave the unicorns
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