Ilivetolearn's Blog

June 18, 2007

a tribute to Shel Silverstein

Filed under: lyrics,Spain — ilivetolearn @ 6:30 pm

Evan is back in Madrid, hanging out with ASM friends from junior year and frequenting the Irish bars that abound in the city. He did the same in March over his spring break, often humming or singing “The Unicorn Song” the day after an evening in a pub. This is a famous Irish Rovers song and seems to be the soundtrack for a lot of Guinness drinking, but it actually has nothing to do with Ireland. In fact, it was written by Shel Silverstein, which we discovered the same Wednesday (library day) Margo brought home Where the Sidewalk Ends and spent the week reading us his poetry.

By pure coincidence, the old Judy Collins song “Hey Nelly Nelly” was running through my head, minus a few verses (I must be getting old) and upon looking them up on the Internet, I found this song too was written by Shel Silverstein! AND “A Boy Named Sue,” a Grammy winner (in the Johnny Cash rendition) our Yale classmate used to sing along with, substituting his name (Gail) for Sue in each verse. And “Sylvia’s Mother,” and “Cover of the Rolling Stone,” and so many more.  He may be more famous as a children’s author, but the man was brilliant with tunes and lyrics. It’s a pity he’s not alive to help out the Spanish government now, since they have just announced an initiative to put words to Spain’s anthem, the Marcha Real, by the end of the summer. (see June 15, 2006 entry)

If I had been on the ball, I would have recommended that Margo report on Shel Silverstein to her music class when they were studying composers, instead of Robert B. and Richard M. Sherman, brothers who scored Disney’s Jungle Book and Mary Poppins but also share credit for the world’s most annoying song: “It’s a Small World After All.”


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