Join 3,496 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


And the operator says Forty cents more, for the next three minutes
January 28, 2013 10:50 AM   Subscribe

Sylvia's mother was a 1972 single by Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show that was written by Shel Silverstein that tells the true story of Shel's girlfriend Sylvia Pandolfi Silverstein admitted that there was a real Sylvia, and he did indeed call her mother to learn the shocking truth. He even thought of pulling a Mrs. Robinson and disrupting the wedding, but he came to his senses when thinking about Sylvia's last words to him: "Shel, don't spoil it." She would never become Mrs. Sylvia Silverstein. The video is a short documentary about the song with interviews from Sylvia's mother and Sylvia Pandolfi.

Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show - Sylvia's Mother

Bobby Bare Sylvia's Mother

Dr Hook & The Medicine Show - "Sylvia´s Mother" From Shel´s Houseboat
posted by Sailormom (48 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite

 
Loved the Hook. Loved the Shel.

Can't get Sylvia's mother's links to work. Got the Hook's link to work, though. Good enough.

My eyes are all red, and I'm sleepy. I think I'll go to bed now, and play the other side of the record tomorrow.
posted by mule98J at 10:59 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


The very first single I ever bought, for the guitar hooks.
posted by Ardiril at 11:00 AM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Holy carp, Shel Silverstein wrote "A Boy Named Sue"?!
posted by maryr at 11:12 AM on January 28, 2013


Holy carp, Shel Silverstein wrote "A Boy Named Sue"?!

Yup. Previously.
posted by zamboni at 11:14 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Great mackerel that houseboat video. I think I know what the medicine is in the medicine show.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:15 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love the song, but I never knew it was based on a true story. Wow.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:19 AM on January 28, 2013


The problem with music today is...NOT ENOUGH EYE-PATCHES
posted by spicynuts at 11:31 AM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


That was great, thanks! I really liked the video interviews with Sylvia and her mother. It was neat to hear their side of the story.

I recognized the song but, because I heard it as a kid, never thought about the lyrics at all. In fact, I didn't realize until I was in my 20s that Shel Silverstein did more than write children's poetry/stories. It blew my mind to realize he had written "On the Cover of the Rolling Stone" and "A Boy Named Sue."
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:35 AM on January 28, 2013



I recognized the song but, because I heard it as a kid, never thought about the lyrics at all. In fact, I didn't realize until I was in my 20s that Shel Silverstein did more than write children's poetry/stories. It blew my mind to realize he had written "On the Cover of the Rolling Stone" and "A Boy Named Sue."
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:35 AM on January 28 [+] [!]


Dr Hook's music from the Silverstein period was absolutely classic. After Sloppy Seconds it kind of drives down hill, but we can pretend those records didn't happen.
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:40 AM on January 28, 2013


You see, in the old days there was only one telephone in the house and it was wired to the wall, so maybe someone else answered the phone when you called your friend. And when you weren't home, you had to go into a sort of upright glass coffin standing on the street and pick up a phone that was screwed to the wall, put some coins in a hole, dial a number... yeah, hang on, I'll tell you about dialing, but first, there was this woman called the operator who you could talk to if you wanted to get some help...
posted by pracowity at 11:42 AM on January 28, 2013 [26 favorites]


and then, of course, THIS Shel Silverstein song.
posted by DMelanogaster at 11:44 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I loved Shel Silverstein as a child. It is only recently that I found out that he also worked for Playboy writing some of their comics. He also wrote a devilish book called Uncle Shelby's ABZ book.
http://boingboing.net/2009/09/09/shel-silversteins-un.html
posted by psycho-alchemy at 11:51 AM on January 28, 2013


Weird. I had this song stuck in my head for the last couple of weeks even though I hadn’t heard it in decades. I kept trying to remember to look it up. You are freaking me out.
posted by bongo_x at 11:52 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks for this. I'm a huge fan of Silverstein's songwriting, largely through the music of Bobby Bare and his son, Bobby Bare, Jr, both of whom are unheralded national treasures IMHO.

A few highlights of the Bares' collaboration with Silverstein:

"Painting Her Fingernails", performed by Bobby Bare, Jr.

"Dropkick Me, Jesus Through the Goalposts of Life" performed by Bare, Sr.

"I Hate Myself" written by Silverstein and Bare, Jr.; one of the last songs Silverstein ever wrote.

And then there's "Daddy, What If," which walks the line between between maudlin/profound in the way Silverstein effectively trademarked. Original (Bare, Sr. with Bare Jr. as a tot). And a remake decades later, by Bare Jr. and his own tyke, Isabella.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:54 AM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh man, England, the early 70s, a Jag with an 8-track.... those were the days.
posted by marienbad at 11:56 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


HATED that song when it came out.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:14 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Boxmasters' cover.

It's Billy Bob Thornton, but it's worth the 3:13.
posted by donpardo at 12:24 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is no one going to mention "The Winner"? Because that’s a good song.
posted by bongo_x at 12:26 PM on January 28, 2013


Holy crap, Shel Silverstein wrote On The Cover of The Rolling Stone?
posted by jokeefe at 12:36 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Only record that I've bought in three different formats so far, two times on audio cassette, so I've paid for it four times. You could say that it's my jam for any occasion, but damn if it isn't my perfect road trip soundtrack.
posted by Jazz Hands at 12:36 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Curse you. I'm going to be singing "We're big rock singers, we've got golden fingers, we're loved everywhere we go/We sing about beauty and we sing about truth-- for ten thousand dollars a show" for the rest of the damn day.
posted by jokeefe at 12:37 PM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]



The problem with music today is...NOT ENOUGH EYE-PATCHES

Too right. The 1970s were the golden age of patch-rock:  
posted by Herodios at 12:39 PM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Almost $0.75 a minute*?

And within a year the Justice Dept begins breaking up the Bells. Just saying.


*2013 dollars.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:47 PM on January 28, 2013


Shel Silverstein wrote All Along the Watchtower!? I thought it was Neil Young all these years.
posted by kenaldo at 12:47 PM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


The problem with music today is...NOT ENOUGH EYE-PATCHES

Here's the story, from Ray Sawyer, the guy with the eye patch:

"I must have played all the clubs from Houston to Charleston until I decided I was going insane from too much beans and music, and I gave it up. I saw a John Wayne movie and proceeded to Portland, Oregon, to be a logger complete with plaid shirt, Colk boots, and Pike pole. On the way my car slipped on the road and the accident left me with the eye patch I now wear. When I recovered I ran straight back to the beans and music and vowed, Here I'll stay."
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:48 PM on January 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Shel Silverstein wrote All Along the Watchtower!? I thought it was Neil Young all these years.

No, it was Colonel Tigh.
posted by Etrigan at 1:09 PM on January 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


"I'm going down to Texas..."

And, of course:

"I saw Polly in a Porny with a Pony"

For a kid raised on "The Giving Tree", this was quite a shock when I discovered these.
posted by ColdChef at 1:09 PM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Can someone add the FriendZone tag?
posted by furtive at 1:13 PM on January 28, 2013


The result of On the Cover of the Rolling Stone: What's-Their-Names Make the Cover.

Shel Silverstein wrote All Along the Watchtower!? I thought it was Neil Young all these years.

No, it was Colonel Tigh


I was deeply shocked at 15 to discover that it was not Jimi Hendrix.
posted by jokeefe at 1:16 PM on January 28, 2013


The 1970s were the golden age of patch-rock

The 1980s didn't do too badly either.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGNiXGX2nLU

We used to actually dance like that.
posted by jokeefe at 1:23 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well jokeefe, I think you've gotten your earworm revenge on us for "The Cover of the Rolling Stone"!

(That video is AWESOME. The hair! The finger-wagging! The hip-wiggling!)
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:51 PM on January 28, 2013


See, I knew about "Cover of the Rolling Stone" and "Boy Named Sue" and the kinda dirty stuff, but so now I'm shocked in the opposite direction. "Sylvia's Mother" is... so polite! So tasteful!
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 2:02 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I was six, my grandma bought me "Freaking at the Freaker's Ball" because I liked to listen to "Sarah Sylvia Cynthia Stout." Then they listened to the rest of the record and had to take it away from me.
posted by NedKoppel at 2:56 PM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Shel Silverstein wrote All Along the Watchtower!? I thought it was Neil Young all these years.

No, it was Colonel Tigh

I was deeply shocked at 15 to discover that it was not Jimi Hendrix.


*

Not as shocked as I was to realize that Bob Dylan was a Cylon.
posted by NedKoppel at 2:57 PM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


OMG I totally forgot Shel Silverstein wrote The Unicorn Song (sung by The Irish Rovers). Which reminds me...

When I was six, my grandma bought me "Freaking at the Freaker's Ball" because I liked to listen to "Sarah Sylvia Cynthia Stout." Then they listened to the rest of the record and had to take it away from me.

My brother and I had a copy of The Irish Rovers' children's album (with the aforementioned "Unicorn Song"). It was not until much, much later that I discovered The Irish Rovers were not known primarily for being children's entertainers.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:14 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


All I knew them for was "Wasn't That A Party."
posted by NedKoppel at 3:21 PM on January 28, 2013


This was always my favorite Shel Silverstein song. Thanks, Dr Demento!
posted by chavenet at 3:50 PM on January 28, 2013


I sing this song all the time. Love that band. Memorized all their hits when I was a kid.
posted by surplus at 4:39 PM on January 28, 2013


My sister bought this single and left it on the dash in the family car. Hot sun + vinyl = very warped vinyl.
posted by davebush at 4:50 PM on January 28, 2013


As the story goes, Silverstein wrote "A Boy Named Sue" after hearing his friend Jean Shepherd, yes that Jean Shepherd, complain about being teased as a kid for having a girl's name.
posted by plastic_animals at 5:07 PM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


It was not until much, much later that I discovered The Irish Rovers were not known primarily for being children's entertainers.

We used to see their show on the CBC. Between that and The Pig and Whistle, we saw a bit more propagandizing for getting drunk in pubs than you would normally give a kid these days.
posted by pracowity at 12:54 AM on January 29, 2013


My co-worker's name is Silvia, and she grew up in the 70s.

Oh, how she hates this song.
posted by kinnakeet at 5:20 AM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


We used to see their show on the CBC. Between that and The Pig and Whistle, we saw a bit more propagandizing for getting drunk in pubs than you would normally give a kid these days.

The Irish Rovers were the reason I wasn't nearly as impressed by the Pogues as everyone else I knew seemed to be.

Now, did Shel Silverstein write Puff the Magic Dragon, as well? Somehow that would fit.
posted by jokeefe at 8:10 PM on January 29, 2013


Nope, a Cornell student and Peter of Peter, Paul, and Mary, says Wikipedia.
posted by maryr at 8:54 PM on January 29, 2013


And he also wrote "The Eyes of Lucy Jordan" featured in two films: Montenegro and Thelma and Louise. Check out Marianne Faithfull's rendition in Montenegro.
posted by lometogo at 9:00 PM on January 30, 2013


Bon Jovi cover
posted by ColdChef at 7:37 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Speak of the devil: Will Sheff just posted an insanely brilliant, savage, loving dissection of a drug-addled 1974 Dr. Hook German TV special, with lots of video and epic digressions. It's an incredible read.
posted by mediareport at 8:08 AM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


-mediareport

That was pretty great and I’m now ordering the DVD. I don’t know who Will Sheff is, but he seemed to read way more drama and meaning into what was going on than I would. It just seemed like a bunch of guys fucking around to me. He also doesn’t seemed to understand how musicians can both have an idea what they are going to do and improvise, and good musicians can switch back and forth quickly, which is weird because it says on his site that he’s the singer in a band.
posted by bongo_x at 11:17 AM on February 5, 2013


« Older Stanley...  |  The Learners Bill of Rights, a... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments