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Shel Silverstein Songs (A Boy Named Shel)

Sheldon Allan Silverstein was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. He was a Writer, poet, cartoonist, singer-songwriter, musician, and dramatist.

He briefly studied a college education before being enlisted in the American Army. He had two kids named Shoshanna Jordan Hastings and Matthew De Ver.

Shel Silverstein is well known for his diverse range of artistic abilities as a writer, poet, and musician. He produced a large number of songs, some of which other singers used as hits. Shel Silverstein’s poetry and children’s novels, like “Where the Sidewalk Ends” and “The Giving Tree,” have become timeless masterpieces in addition to his songs.

Through his writing and songwriting, he was able to engage a variety of audiences, which is evidence of his continuing legacy.

How was Shel Silverstein’s Early Life?  

Silverstein's stage performance
Silverstein’s stage performance

Shel developed a love of country music early on and frequently listened to Earnest Tubb on the Grand Ole Opry radio program. Playing the ukulele, reading books, and watching White Sox games were some of his other favorite occupations.

He had to leave within one year. Shel Silverstein enrolled in the University of Illinois from the fall of 1948 to June 1949 and then entered the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts.

He had already established his own working method by that moment. He received ideas in completely developed form and firmly refused help from teachers.

He also helped to lay out the paper. Robert Cosbey, an English professor at Roosevelt University who worked to develop Shel Silverstein’s talent after identifying it, had an impact on the author.

However, Silverstein was unable to complete his studies at this institution since in 1953 he was called up to the American Army.

When did He Start his Career as a Cartoonist?

After returning to Chicago, Shel Silverstein made the decision to send his cartoons to other publications. His cartoons were accepted by Look, Sports Illustrated, and The Week, among other publications.

In 1956, Ballantine Books released his novel Take Ten under a new title, Grab Your Socks, and this is when he first gained widespread recognition.

Later, he was employed by Playboy magazine as a senior cartoonist. His first task was to explore the globe and compile a trip diary. Aside from New Jersey, Silverstein has also been to Chicago, Mexico, London, Paris, Spain, and Africa.

He released the finest cartoon collection of the 1950s, Now Here’s My Plan, in the year 1950. Later, it served as the cover for his next extremely popular cartoon series, which was published by Simon & Schuster.

Silverstein's work as a cartoonist
Silverstein’s work as a cartoonist

What Made Shel Silverstein Become a Poet?

Shel Silverstein published Where the Sidewalk Ends, his debut book of children’s poetry, in 1974. His humorous poetry was consistently black-and-white illustrated. A brand-new picture book titled The Missing Piece was first published by him in 1976.

In the short tale “The Missing Piece,” a circle looks for a lost wedge. When the circle does locate the missing piece, it comes to the realization that the process of searching itself was more enjoyable than actually finding the item.

Three years later, Silverstein released Different Dances, her second novel. The one word that pushed Silverstein to fame as a great poet, nevertheless, was A Light in the Attic.

In addition, he published The Missing Piece Meets the Big O as a follow-up to his debut work, The Missing Piece. The missing component served as the central theme of this tale, which was told from its perspective.

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Why Did Shel Silverstein Start Writing Children’s Books?

  • In 1963, Uncle Shelby’s Story of Lafcadio: The Lion Who Shot Back, Shel Silverstein’s debut book, was released. The Giving Tree, on the other hand, was the work that helped the author gain fame as a children’s book author. Editor William Cole rejected the manuscript, but Harper Collins eventually accepted it and went on to publish it, to great success.
  • In his beautiful book, The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein tells the tale of a youngster who visits a tree every day and takes what it freely offers. Until it runs out of things to give, the tree continues to give with unrequited affection, expecting nothing in return.
  • The Giving Tree is a beautifully written and drawn tale by Silverstein about a youngster who visits a tree every day and continuously takes what the tree freely offers, however, as the child matures, his wants increase. The tree never asks for anything in return and gives until it has nothing left to give.
  • Known title, The book, which talks about the relationship between a boy and a tree, has been translated into various languages. In 2013, it came in third place on a Goodreads list of the “Best Children’s Books.”

What Are Some Contributions of Shel to Theatre and Music?

Shel Silverstein had a deep love for music and wrote a lot of songs for various performers. His admirers found several of his tracks to be successful and popular.

Some of these included Dr. Hook’s “I Don’t Want to Be Alone Tonight” and “Sylvia’s Mother,” as well as Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue,” “One’s on the Way,” and “The Unicorn.”

Ned Kelly, Thieves, Postcards from the Edge, and Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me? are only a few of the movie scripts that Shel Silverstein authored.

He also wrote poetry
He also wrote poetry

How Long Did Shel Silverstein Work for Playboy?

The publisher of Playboy magazine Hugh Hefner introduced Shel Silverstein to him in 1956 and offered him a position as a cartoonist. Hefner, a smart cartoon director, let Silverstein be as nasty and raunchy as he wanted.

By 1957, Silverstein, flourishing under Hefner’s direction, became the leading cartoonist at Playboy. With the success, came more challenging assignments.

To create an illustrated journal, Hefner sent him to far-flung areas in and outside the United States. Silverstein visited places including the New Jersey nudist colony, the Haight-Ashbury area in San Francisco, and the White Sox training complex in Chicago during his travels.

He also visited areas in Africa and Latin America like Cuba and Mexico, as well as countries in Europe like England, France, and Switzerland.

What Songs of Shel’s Were Made Popular?

Now, let’s talk about some songs by Silverstein.

Song NameAlbum NameReleasing Year
Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage OutFreakin’ at the Freakers Ball1972
Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me TooWhere The Sidewalk Ends1993
The Smoke OffSongs And Stories 
You’re Always Welcome at Our HouseInside Folk Songs1962
Boy Named SueBoy Named Sue1969
I Got Stoned and I Missed ItFreakin’ at the Freakers Ball1972
Peanut-Butter SandwichWhere The Sidewalk Ends1993
Bury Me in My ShadesInside Folk Songs1962
Ever Lovin’ MachineI’m So Good That I Don’t Have To Brag1965
Beans Taste FineInside Folk Songs1962
Songs of Silverstein
Let’s watch this video about the top five songs written by Shel Silverstein.


  • Shel Silverstein was a distinctive writer with a variety of artistic abilities. Despite not being aware of the great poets of the day, he had a passion for writing from an early age.
  • As a young man, he developed his writing techniques and style, and he also explored other musical expressions of his abilities.
  • He hoped that readers of all ages would be able to connect to his works in order to reach as many people as he could with his writing.
  • He received praise for encouraging young readers to appreciate poetry, and his gloomy lyrics show familiarity with ordinary youthful concerns and aspirations.

Click here to view the visual story version of this article.

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