Brain Pickings

Shel Silverstein Duets with Johnny Cash, 1970


A meditation on fatherhood from Uncle Shelby.

Few know that beloved children’s book author Shel Silverstein, of The Giving Tree fame, was also a prolific songwriter whose songs were recently — and beautifully — covered by contemporary indie icons.

On April 1, 1970, Silverstein brought his musical talents to The Johnny Cash Show. After a quick and playful duet with Cash on his song “Boy Named Sue,” Silverstein does a charming solo performance of a children’s song he wrote called “Daddy, What If,” prefaced by a moving aside about his relationship with his own father. Enjoy.

I’m really proud of the relationship I have with my dad, I really love him a lot.” ~ Shel Silverstein

Complement with Silverstein’s fantastic posthumous anthology of 137 never-before-seen poems and drawings and his impossibly wonderful The Missing Piece and the Big O.

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