The Full Goofy: Shel Silverstein

The Full Goofy: Shel Silverstein April 4, 2014

Last week I looked at beautiful singing in Gaelic, continuing a general Irish/Celtic theme around here; today I thought I’d do something completely different, and bring it the full goofy.

I got to know Shel Silverstein from his books The Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends, which used to come very handy at bedtime, and from a recording or two I used to hear on the Dr. Demento show when I was in high school. But Silverstein was a true songwriter, and he wrote songs for all kinds of people. Over the last several years I’ve heard myself say, “Oh, he wrote that one, too?” on numerous occasions. Today, in honor of April Fool’s day, then, I’d like to bring together a number of his songs that you might not know are his songs—unless you detect his trademark word-play and story-telling style.

The first one is a song I loved when I was a kid, and I had no idea what on earth the singers were talking about. (I heard a lot of music back in my pre-teen years for which the words never really registered.) Even now I enjoy listening to this one in the car: “The Cover of the Rolling Stone” by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, which indeed got the band on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

Silverstein’s best known song is probably this one, as performed by Johnny Cash: “A Boy Named Sue.”

More recently, Pandora introduced me to a country singer named Bobby Bare, who recorded lots of Silverstein’s songs; here are two you might not have heard. The first is called “The Winner”, and it’s about a serious moral trouncing a would-be brawler gets in cheap bar somewhere.

The next is a tale of cross-border romance and quick escapes called “Pour Me Another Tequila, Sheila”. Anyone who can rhyme “Pancho Villa” with “Sheila” is OK in my book.

And finally, here’s Mr. Silverstein himself, with one of those tunes I remember from the Dr. Demento Show: “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take The Garbage Out”. (I used to know almost all of this by heart.)

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