VIP Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein (September 25, 1930 - May 8, 1999)

As well as writing many popular children's books, Shel Silverstein gave us some of the most comedic popular songs in recent history. He wrote the music and lyrics for "A Boy Named Sue" (performed by Johnny Cash), Tompall Glaser's single "Put Another Log on the Fire," and "The Unicorn" (recorded by the Irish Rovers in 1968). He also wrote music for most of the Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show songs, including "The Cover of the Rolling Stone" and "The Ballad of Lucy Jordan" (recorded in 1979 by Marianne Faithfull). He was nominated for an Oscar for his music for the film Postcards from the Edge, and composed original music for several other films. He played guitar, piano, saxophone, and trombone.

KMUD DJ Long John says he helped inspire Silverstein's poem "The Great Smoke-Off". He recounts that Silverstein came to a party in the early 1970s in Dry Creek, California, near Middletown where a beautiful blonde Scorpio woman was expertly rolling joints. "It got to be a contest," said Long John, with he, Shel and others smoking the joints as fast as they were rolled. "I kept prodding her for more," he said, "It was the equivalent of today's 'beer me'." Having heard Shel was inspired by the event, he was alerted when The Smoke-Off was recorded and appeared at the library at KVRE in Santa Rosa (one of the many stations where Long John DJ-ed). You can still hear the poem, and much more, on Tubby Tunes.

Silverstein wrote a pot-inspired song, the cautionary "I Got Stoned and I Missed It" (from Freakin' at the Freaker's Ball, 1972), perhaps the inspiration for today's "Because I Got High" from Afroman.

But the most amazing thing Silverstein wrote on the topic is "The Perfect High." (Thanks to Jeremy Dau, author of Weed the People, for introducing VIPs to this wonderful poem with his excellent rendition.)

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