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'The Father of the Boy Named Sue'
November 7, 2002 8:41 AM   Subscribe

'The Father of the Boy Named Sue' Shel Silverstein's follow-up to his Cash hit-maker, 'A Boy Named Sue', ends in terrifying innuendo.
posted by dgaicun (48 comments total)

 
Ha ha ha! What a funny man. The one about where the sidewalk ends is funny too.

Funny.
posted by jon_kill at 8:45 AM on November 7, 2002


Apparently the sidewalk ends at the door to a NAMBLA meeting.
posted by Xkot at 8:48 AM on November 7, 2002


Crap post, please delete.
posted by y2karl at 8:48 AM on November 7, 2002


And irons my shirts better than a daughter could do.
And on the nights that I can’t score,
Well, I can’t tell you anymore.
Sure is a joy to have a boy named Sue.
Yeah, a son is fun,
But it’s a joy to have a boy named Sue.


Ewww...
posted by dash_slot- at 8:49 AM on November 7, 2002


ROFL. (and i'm in a training room exploring the intricacies of about 400 linked relational database tables - so i'm pounding the table and gasping "zero to one to many! Now thats FUNNY!" i don't think they are buying it...)
posted by quonsar at 8:50 AM on November 7, 2002


note: ROFL w/ regard to Xcot's comment, not the post itself.
posted by quonsar at 8:51 AM on November 7, 2002


The Smithsonian thinks this site is too improper to be viewed on a work computer. Thanks to dash_slot for giving me a clue what the net-nanny is blocking.
posted by SealWyf at 8:51 AM on November 7, 2002


Wow, didn't see that one coming. Yikes! Sorta taints my whole childhood hero worship of Shel, ah, heck, no it doesn't, I've made plenty of creepy off color jokes in my day, and I doubt any were this creative!
posted by Pollomacho at 8:56 AM on November 7, 2002


Silverstein has a large body of work intended for older people that most people aren't aware of. This guy expressed more authentic creative genius in one day than I will in my entire life.
posted by dgaicun at 8:57 AM on November 7, 2002


Great post. I had no idea he wrote that kinda stuff, it's hilarious.
posted by zekinskia at 8:57 AM on November 7, 2002


A link to a single poem.

No wonder I'm on vacation from Metafilter.
posted by interrobang at 9:00 AM on November 7, 2002


Ask Yahoo had a question relating to this recently; I didn't even know that Silverstein had written the original, much less the bawdier sequel.

From the yahoo link, here's a short Salon article about Shel. Multi-talented indeed.
posted by yhbc at 9:01 AM on November 7, 2002


Oh my god! That is immensely disturbing. And actually I think xcot is on to something...
posted by RJ Reynolds at 9:02 AM on November 7, 2002


Interrobang, you've been on MeFi vacation... since yesterday? Remind me to timeshare a vacation condo with you.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 9:05 AM on November 7, 2002


The Man in Black has a new album (sorry, no 'The Father of the Boy Named Sue'). American IV: The Man Comes Around. He was plugging it on NPR yesterday. (make sure to listen to both parts)
posted by Frank Grimes at 9:07 AM on November 7, 2002


I enjoy artists who can revisit their work and offer a fresh and unexpected perspective.
posted by mischief at 9:10 AM on November 7, 2002


I think xcot is on to something...

Note the performers it was written for - Bobby Bare and BB Jr. It's not about NAMBLA. Christ, can't a son say he loves his father without homophobes having a fit?

(I'm not trying to call you a homophobe, RJ; I think the NAMBLA connection is one of those, if you're looking for it, you'll find it, cases.)
posted by notsnot at 9:12 AM on November 7, 2002


And irons my shirts better than a daughter could do.
And on the nights that I can’t score,
Well, I can’t tell you anymore.


Uhh, you don't have to look too hard...
And I don't think homosexuality is exactly the main complaint against NAMBLA, maybe you should check out the literature..
posted by Fabulon7 at 9:18 AM on November 7, 2002


And the whole thing where Sue's hittin' his dad with his purse and stompin' on him with his high-heeled shoes describes *every* father-son relationship where I come from.

No, seriously.
posted by WolfDaddy at 9:23 AM on November 7, 2002


naysayers: how exactly is this a crap post? (your comments are crap.)

thanks for the link dgaicun.

(incidentally, notsnot, i don't think it's even possible for rj to be a homophobe. he was just kidding.)
posted by donkeyschlong at 9:29 AM on November 7, 2002


Yes, he's gotten this hazy, vaseline-lensed nostalgic view as just another kid-friendly author, but Silverstein really had a perverse streak in him, as classics such as Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book show.
posted by dhartung at 9:29 AM on November 7, 2002


Remember in "Catcher in the Rye" when Holden's complaining about how, "you can't even find a place that's nice and peaceful, because there isn't any. you may think there is, but once you get there, when you're not looking, somebody'll sneak up and write "fuck you" right under your nose. "

That's sorta how reading that poem/song made me feel. Like someone snuck right up behind all my happy Shel childhood memories and wrote "fuck you."
posted by jodic at 9:30 AM on November 7, 2002


Come on, jodic. You've never heard (or read) Stacy Brown Got Two or Don't Give A Dose To The One You Love Most?

Unca Shel's a naughty, naughty man.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:35 AM on November 7, 2002


This was a great find.... As I read the lyrics I could hear Johnny Cash and the melodic cadence of the original song in my head....or was that my cubicle mate humming? Anyway, though I doubt Cash will ever record the sequel song, I do hope someone does for those of us who like those strange and off-beat songs (such as "Wildwood Weed" by Jim Stafford or "The I-95 Song" by August and the Spur of the Moment Band).

Ahhhh....they remind me of my family and growing up as a wee lass....
posted by skittles at 10:03 AM on November 7, 2002


Uncle Shelby's ABZ book is quite simply the best children's book ever written. Not that it should be read by actual children, mind you.
posted by Acetylene at 10:04 AM on November 7, 2002


Is dhartung's ABZ link safe for work? I saw the word 'playboy' in the URL and balked for the time being.
posted by Ufez Jones at 10:20 AM on November 7, 2002


It's safe, Ufez - it was originally published in Playboy (in 1961), hence the URL. It's also pretty funny, as you might expect.

"S is for spit. How far can YOU spit?"
posted by yhbc at 10:27 AM on November 7, 2002


I actually had the ABZ book as a kid (it was a present from my uncle). I remember thinking it was funny but I don't think I realized the impact it had on my sense of humor until just now.
posted by pfuller at 10:53 AM on November 7, 2002


Uncle Shelby's ABZ book is quite simply the best children's book ever written. Not that it should be read by actual children, mind you.

Word. I once happened across Shel in Key West, where we both lived at the time, and had my one-year old son with me. I told him I couldn't wait till my son could read so I could get him the ABZ book and Shel laughed and immediately said "No, no... not till he's older.... much older!"

Shel was a complicated guy, as this lyric shows. I find it to be more hateful than entertaining, and there are other things of his that I have problems with, but he is unquestionably one of the true originals of American culture.
posted by soyjoy at 10:54 AM on November 7, 2002


Links to Bobby Bare Jr. and the Young Criminals, for the hell of it.
posted by liam at 11:36 AM on November 7, 2002


Somehow it seems rather silly and melodramatic to be horrified at the realisation someone who writes poems for children had less-than-polite sense of humour when he wrote for other adults or his own amusement. It doesn't change the fact he was marvelous at what he did for children.

To put this in perspective, has anyone ever gone back as a wisened adult and reread some of Roald Dahl's stories? His humour was always a little whacked, and borderline disturbing, but he is still considered one of the greatest childrens'book authors. Who hasn't heard of Matilda or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Or, more in this vein, The Twits or The Witches? Those were some of my favourites as a kid and I turned out just fine (...I think).
posted by nelleish at 12:29 PM on November 7, 2002


Dennis Lee also wrote excellent children's poetry, which I loved as a child, and much racier adult poetry and prose. It shocked me a little when I first found that out. Same with Shel.
posted by Fabulon7 at 12:54 PM on November 7, 2002


Great post! this is just the kind of bizarreness I come here to find. I hadn't thought about Shel Silverstein in years.

nelleish: Roald Dahl is a very interesting, and quite nasty, character. Apparently he was quite an anti-semite, and wasn't particularly nice to his own children. He also wrote the screenplay for the James Bond film "You Only Live Twice". And he campaigned relentlessly, in vain, for a knighthood. The book to read on the subject of his life is Jeremy Treglown's Roald Dahl: A Biography. More on that here.
posted by condour75 at 12:55 PM on November 7, 2002


Shel is one of those authors that has made the transition with me from childhood to adulthood. I don't think this song is any more disturbing than his other work - I think it's hilarious.

And I love the ABZ link - I'd never read it before. It reminds me of Gorey (another lifetime favorite of mine)
posted by Julnyes at 1:00 PM on November 7, 2002


I would really rather have not known that. I always liked the original song. So now I'm just going to pretend there was never a sequel. Like I do with the movie Highlander.
posted by nyxxxx at 1:05 PM on November 7, 2002


Great post...who'd have thunk I would be reading about Shel at my office?
posted by pjgulliver at 1:09 PM on November 7, 2002


Kind of late in my teenage years, I suppose, but a major coming-of-age point for me was discovering that Casey Kasem actually swore.

On a related note, when I revisited "Lost in Space" reruns circa the same period, I was able to see past "whoa, a robot! who talks [44k 2sec. WAV] in a cool, urgent voice!" and pick up on the contentious relationship between Robot and Dr Smith (R.I.P.).

Also, that NAMBLA comparison was way off. As anyone who watched L&O:SVU last Friday knows, it's "man/boy love," not "father/adult-son love." Which is still pretty, um, out there.
posted by britain at 2:22 PM on November 7, 2002


Yes, he was a NAMBLA member, and this "terrifying" poem is the destruction of all happy childhood memories. WTF? It's a joke, a joke intended for an older audience.
posted by Nothing at 4:06 PM on November 7, 2002


Good post, but...bleck.
posted by FormlessOne at 4:07 PM on November 7, 2002


Nothing: am I confused, or are you? I don't think he was a NMBLA member...
posted by dash_slot- at 4:38 PM on November 7, 2002


I believe Nothing was trying to summarize a ridiculous pair of overreactions, there. I agree wholehearteldy with him. Shel is a brilliant guy, and there is no reason he ought to be restraining that to mild, kid-oriented writing.
posted by cortex at 4:48 PM on November 7, 2002


condour75: I'm not saying you can completely separate a creation from it's creator, but finding out less-than-perfect aspects about a treasured childhood hero isn't horrific, it's growing up (as cynical as that must sound)
posted by nelleish at 5:25 PM on November 7, 2002


Although Roald Dahl wrote children's books, and children do love them, I'm quite convinced that he passionately hates children.

He also wrote some adult books. They're very... "saucy."
posted by five fresh fish at 5:33 PM on November 7, 2002


I'm quite convinced that he passionately hates children

Why, fff? Children are often the victims of really awful tortures in his books, but nearly always at the hands of grown-ups (though there are plenty of compassionate adult characters). He does have some horrible children, but most of the time they're secondary characters to the child-heroes. Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are probably the best examples.
posted by hippugeek at 6:38 PM on November 7, 2002


Although Roald Dahl wrote children's books, and children do love them, I'm quite convinced that he passionately hates children.

Or as someone at my house once put it, "He hated children, but especially all people."
posted by redfoxtail at 7:49 PM on November 7, 2002


I was rather amazed to discover, several years ago, that Margaret Atwood wrote children's books as well.
posted by emmling at 8:10 PM on November 7, 2002


That Roald Dahl site linked earlier is actually mine. I've tackled the "Did he hate kids?" question on my FAQ page here. Short answer: no. There are a lot of bad things you can say about him, but "child-hater" isn't one of them.
posted by web-goddess at 9:26 PM on November 7, 2002


By the way, this has been performed. I saw a group called Sonic Uke perform their version of "Father of The Boy Named Sue" at the Global Ukulele Summit in New York City a few weeks ago.
posted by Songdog at 6:04 AM on November 8, 2002


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