Thursday, September 28, 2006

Shel Silverstein was my Father

When I was a kid, my dad used to listen to an extremely random collection of music. Ray Stevens and "Weird Al" Yankovic would sit right beside Elvis and the Beatles and Boney M, with some George Beverly Shea sandwiched uncomfortably in between. I suppose I inherited much of my eclectic taste in music from him.

One of his favourite albums to listen to on long car trips was a little white tape called "Kickin' Country". It had such classics on it as "Mama's Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys". But my very favourite song on the tape had to be this one about a guy who rates women on a scale of one to ten, and then a woman turns around and gives him a rating that puts him in his place. It was catchy, witty, and really really funny. I had no idea who sings it, since it is a compilation album, but I borrowed the tape from my dad once so that I could make a copy of it, and I've been keeping an eye out for a CD copy of it in stores ever since.

Today, I wanted to quote that witty ratings song to a friend, so I went to Google to find the lyrics. I found them, but I wasn't sure I could believe what I had found. The song is called "Numbers" and it's written by Shel Silverstein! Yes, THAT Shel Silverstein. The guy who wrote "A Light in the Attic" and "The Giving Tree". But that's not all! Apparently, Shel Silverstein also wrote one of my other all-time favourite childhood songs, The Irish Rovers' biggest hit, "The Unicorn". And that's not all, either! He ALSO wrote the lyrics to several Dr. Hook songs, including "Cover of the Rolling Stone" and "Sylvia's Mother", which my brother and I always loved even if the rest of the world never seemed to get the subtle irony of its crooning. And, at the risk of sounding like a late-night infomercial, THAT'S STILL NOT ALL!!! He ALSO wrote the lyrics to Johnny Cash's "A Boy Named Sue".

It's like Shel Silverstein was quietly in the background of my entire life, secretly scripting all of the songs that would make me smile. It's like discovering that my whole sense of humour was crafted by one man, whom I never even got to meet. Shel Silverstein was the Cyrano de Bergerac in the bushes of my childhood musical amusement. The only way I could possibly be more blown away right now is if Shel Silverstein also wrote the theme song to Astro Boy. (Okay, I just checked. He didn't.)

5 comments:

Kate said...

I heart Shel Silverstein. My boxed set of his books of poetry is one of the few bits of pleasure reading I kept here at school.

Btw, thanks for the grades... ;)

adr0ck said...

things i listened to with my dad:

~dr. demento (the records and the radio show)
~the doors
~the beach boys
~riders in the sky
~mamas & papas

and NPR -- all the time. i will always have a special place in my heart for garrison keillor.

Kate said...

I forgot to mention that I also like Dr. Hook, definitely grew up with them...definitely have them on my iPod.

adr0ck said...

i forgot to say that my dad bought me a weird al tape when i was a kid -- it was the one with "eat it" on it. i loved that tape!

susie1998 said...

I have always loved Shel Silverstein books. I hope that my kids will appreciate them as much as I