A Six-Hour Playlist of Shel Silverstein’s Poems & Songs: Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic & More


Image via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

Ah, the dog days of sum­mer…

Is your fam­i­ly hot and cranky? Crammed togeth­er in a car for the long ride home? Has bore­dom set in, despite the thou­sands of Poké­mon still at large?

The per­fect anti­dote, dear read­ers, is this six-hour playlist of poet and musi­cian Shel Sil­ver­stein’s best loved work. If you need Spo­ti­fy, down­load it here.

Uncle Shel­by him­self kicks things off with an invi­ta­tion to all dream­ers, wish­ers, liars, hop­ers, pray-ers, mag­ic-bean-buy­ers, and pre­tenders.

That net seems suf­fi­cient­ly wide to encom­pass just about every­one, even (espe­cial­ly!) the sullen teen who wasn’t allowed to stay home by him or her­self.

Sil­ver­stein did not sub­scribe to the dry nar­ra­tive style that E.B.White used to such great effect on the audio­book of Charlotte’s Web.

Instead, he cracks him­self up, hiss­ing, yip­ping and howl­ing his way through Where the Side­walk Ends and A Light in the Attic. A vet­er­an of Off-Broad­way and the author of over a hun­dred one-act plays, Sil­ver­stein clear­ly rel­ished per­form­ing his own work.

(As evi­dence, we sub­mit “Warn­ing,” an instruc­tion­al poem con­cern­ing the sharp-toothed snail dwelling inside every human nose.)

His unhinged gus­to is dou­bly pleas­ing when one recalls the attempts to ban his work from libraries and ele­men­tary schools due to the pres­ence of demons, dev­ils, ghosts, and a manip­u­la­tive lit­tle girl who makes good on her threat to die if her par­ents won’t buy her a pony.

The back end of the playlist is a tes­ta­ment to the poet’s musi­cal abil­i­ties. Per­haps the best known song in his mas­sive cat­a­log is John­ny Cash’s hit “A Boy Named Sue,” above. In addi­tion to Cash and Silverstein’s own hoarse tenor, you’ll encounter the likes of Willie Nel­son, Bob­by Bare and long­time Sil­ver­stein col­lab­o­ra­tor Dr. Hook.

My only regret is the absence of my per­son­al favorite Sil­ver­stein poem …it seems unlike­ly that such a track exists, but I do love imag­in­ing the hav­oc it could wreak in the fam­i­ly car. Chil­dren, don’t for­get your eggs.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Six Ani­ma­tions of Sto­ries and Poems by Shel Sil­ver­stein

Shel Sil­ver­stein Nar­rates an Ani­mat­ed Ver­sion of The Giv­ing Tree (1973)

Studs Terkel Inter­views Bob Dylan, Shel Sil­ver­stein, Maya Angelou & More in New Audio Trove

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Her lat­est script, Fawn­book, is avail­able in a dig­i­tal edi­tion from Indie The­ater Now.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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