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It’s Shel Silverstein Day

He styled himself as Uncle Shelby in his children’s books. Translated into more than 30 languages, his books have sold over 20 million copies.

Born in Chicago, Silverstein began drawing at age 12. He graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School. He began studying art at the University of Illinois but was forced to leave due to bad grades.

In 1953 he was drafted by the US Army and served in Japan and Korea. In the military, his cartoons were published in Pacific Stars And Stripes, where he had originally been assigned to do layouts. His first book, Take Ten, a compilation of his military Take Ten cartoon series was published by Pacific Stars and Stripes in 1955. He later said his time in college was a waste and would have been better spent traveling around the world meeting people.

Returning to Chicago, Silverstein began submitting cartoons to magazines while also selling hot dogs at Chicago ballparks. His cartoons began appearing in ‘Look’, ‘Sports Illustrated’ and ‘This Week’. In 1957, he became one of the leading cartoonists in ‘Playboy Magazine’.

Silverstein’s passion for music was clear early on as he spent a lot of time studying it. His musical output included a large catalog of songs; a number of which were hits for other artists in rock and roll and in country music.

The complete Shel Silverstein discography is absolutely huge. I would like to pick just a few of my favorites and make a list for you here:

  •  ”Put Another Log on the Fire” by Tompall Glaser
  • “A Boy Named Sue” by Johnny Cash
  • “Marie Laveau” by Bobby Bare (Shel did the screaming on the song. The only #1 hit song I know of in country music that had a scream in it.)
  • “The Winner” by Bobby Bare
  • “Tequila Sheila” by Bobby Bare
  • “The Mermaid” by Bobby Bare
  • “The Taker” by Waylon Jennings
  • “Queen Of The Silver Dollar” by Dr. Hook and also by Dave and Sugar
  • “Sylvia’s Mother” by Dr. Hook
  • “The Cover Of The Rolling Stone” by Dr. Hook
  • “One’s On The Way” by Loretta Lynn

And the list could certainly go on much farther, but I’m going to stop for now. I hope you enjoy the songs on my list as much as I do.

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