Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Friday, April 22, 2011

Shel Silverstein's Secret Sleazy Side

Suffering succubus! The end of my From A to Z Contest! draws near. Enter today for your chance at over $100 in prizes!

When you think of Shel Silverstein, you probably think of books like Where the Sidewalk Ends or The Giving Tree, full of fun poems and stories for kids. But did you know he also wrote numerous songs, including Johnny Cash's hit, "A Boy Named Sue"? (No, that's not the sleazy part.)1

Or how about that, before he got into kid's stuff, he wrote a little book called Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book? Sounds pretty innocent, doesn't it? Especially since the original subtitle was "A Primer for Tender Young Minds."2

Here's an excerpt:

B is for baby
See the baby
The baby is fat
The baby is pink
The baby can cry
The baby can laugh
See the baby play
Play, baby, play.
Pretty, pretty baby.
Mommy loves the baby more than she loves you.

Silverstein also suggests stealing money from Mommy's purse, freeing animals at the zoo, setting the house on fire, and telling kidnappers your Daddy has a lot of money, among other things. Oh yeah, and there is no Santa Claus!

So, I think it's pretty obvious what I'm saying: This book is not for kids.

It's just. Too. Awesome.

1 Even if he did write one song called "Ballsack," and another about venereal disease.
2 It has since been amended to "A Primer for Adults Only."

This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, hosted by Candace Ganger and seven others. Go check out the other participants!


  1. Why that Shel Silverstein. I had no idea.

  2. Hah! That makes me love him even more!

  3. I did not know that. He was an "off the charts" kind of guy.

  4. Funny. Why didn't he talk about "See the baby poop and ruin your clothes?" or "See the baby poop and ruin his new clothes?"

    Nice refreshing stuff.

  5. Fascinating - he's done so much more than one imagines!

    Ellie Garratt

  6. Oh yeah! Gotta love it. That would make a great graduation gift for someone I know. (Welcome to the adult world, my dear.)

  7. LOL OMG never heard of him but that book sounds GREAT! *grins*

    Nice to meet you via A-Z!


    Today's A-Z Post on Tessa's Blurb: S is for Sex Sells

  8. M.J.: Although my parents introduced me to the ABZ in my teens, I only learned about the rest myself while researching this post...

    Falen: Agreed! I also have a whole new level of appreciation for the man.

    Mary: "Off the charts" for sure. I'm not even sure if he knew there was a chart.

    Alex: Indeed. Twisted and terrific!

    Sharon: I have to figure he was more interested in messing with kids on a psychological level than a scatological level. Poop just wasn't his style.

    Ellie: I know, right? For some reason, I'm still always surprised by people whose talents extend beyond my initial impression of them.

    li: Yeah, it would be a nice substitute for the standard grad gift (Seuss's Oh! The Places You'll Go!)

    Tessa: Go. Read Shel Silverstein now. I'll wait. :)

  9. my, my, my, talk about Shel Silverstein's sleazy side and leave out his entire Dr. Hook and Sloppy Seconds period?...For shame. Everyone knows Syliva's Mother (arghhh, now I'll have it burrowing into my brain for the rest of the afternoon) but he also penned songs like "Don't Give a Dose to the One You Love Most" and "Freakin at the Freakers Ball".
    He once said it was impossible to write a parody of a country & Western song because you just ended up writing a better Country & Western song...
    That's the Shel I remember. It was much more of a surprise to me to find out he was writing kid's poems and songs than the other way around... yes, I am that old...
    But, you know what?, no matter what he wrote, he was bloody brilliant.

    Sudden Alarm of Donkeys

  10. moe: I didn't leave it out completely; footnote #1 does mention his Dr. Hook period, although it only gives one song title by name. In my defense, I've never heard his music (other than "Sue"), and the focus of this post was more alphabetical in nature...

  11. you were right and, as my husband frequently says, "I was less than completely correct"...I missed the #1 footnote in my haste to defend the blue period of Dr. Silverstein.
    At least you are doing what you can to spread the word about a man of great talent and infinite jest...