Lost Classics! Shel Silverstein


Most people probably know Shel Silverstein as that guy who wrote lovable stuff for kids, like the book Where The Sidewalk Ends and A Light In The Attic and The Giving Tree.  If you have kids, you probably read these to them at one point or another.  But your kids have probably never seen some of Shel’s early work – hope not, anyway.

The guy got his start in the 1950s working for Playboy magazine and its founder Hugh Hefner.  Silverstein drew cartoons and wrote poetry for that magazine until the 1970s.  Before he quit the publishing gig, though, Silverstein became a songwriter.  Among the songs he wrote were “The Unicorn,” a 1968 hit for the Irish Rovers that became their most popular song.  Two years later, Johnny Cash rode Silverstein’s “A Boy Named Sue” all the way to No. 1 and the song earned Silverstein a Grammy Award.

CAUTION: After the jump we feature some of Shel Silverstein’s adult material.  This is NOT for kids!   If you want to read about this author’s work for children, go here or here.  What follows after the jump is NOT FOR KIDS!!!  Whew.

Then along came this group named Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show.  Silverstein wrote most of their songs, including the hit “Sylvia’s Mother,” and the group’s most famous hit, “Cover Of The Rolling Stone.”  That song actually got Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, back in 1973.  “Queen Of The Silver Dollar,” also written by Silverstein was done originally by Dr. Hook but was covered by Conway Twitty and Emmylou Harris.

One song Silverstein originally wrote for Dr. Hook, “The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan,” was recorded by Marianne Faithfull in 1979 and her version has been featured in the films Montenegro and Thelma and Louise.  Silverstein also recorded original music for movies, including Postcards From The Edge, which earned him an Oscar nomination.

Silverstein also cut his own versions of his tunes, some of which would appear later on his kid-oriented albums and in his children’s books.  “Sara Cynthia Sylvia Stout” appeared first on Silverstein’s Freakin’ At The Freaker’s Ball album (1972) and this crazed version became a regular on the Dr. Demento radio show from the 1970s.  Silverstein re-recorded his song years later, to keep from scaring hell out of the kiddies.  Many of his songs from this era are adults-only, R-rated stuff, and Freakin’ At The Freaker’s Ball is his masterpiece.

From the 1970s on Silverstein worked on his children’s books, and he became a beloved author for generations of kids.  He died in 1999 – and many, many kids have grown up and shared his work with their own children, never knowing that Shel Silverstein once worked at Playboy magazine!

MP3: “The Unicorn” by the Irish Rovers

MP3: “A Boy Named Sue” (live, radio version) by Johnny Cash

MP3: “A Front Row Seat To Hear Ole Johnny Sing” by Shel Silverstein

MP3: “Cover Of The Rolling Stone” by Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show

MP3: “Looking For Pussy” by Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show

MP3: “Polly In A Porny” by Shel Silverstein

MP3: “Don’t Give A Dose (To The One You Love Most)” by Shel Silverstein

MP3: “Sara Cynthia Sylvia Stout (Would Not Take The Garbage Out)” by Shel Silverstein (1972 version)

MP3: “The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan” by Marianne Faithfull

MP3: “I’m So Good I Don’t Have To Brag” by Shel Silverstein

MP3: “Freakin’ At The Freakers’ Ball” by Shel Silverstein

2 Responses to “Lost Classics! Shel Silverstein”

  1. Thanks I like any article related to kids , Thanksagain

  2. I love this guy, I grew up with his poetry.

    Thanks for posting this. (:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: