The Best of Shel Silverstein

Music review by
Sonia Montejano, Common Sense Media
The Best of Shel Silverstein Music Poster Image
Surprise! For teens and older.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

Songs with stories of a "freakers ball", revenge, plastic surgery, drug use.


One song features a boy who hunts his father.


Includes a "freak fest" where characters are described.


One profanity (b-word) and derogatory slang for homosexuals.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Includes euphemisms for marijuana and other drugs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Shel Silverstein has done a significant amount of work outside of his kid-oriented sphere, and this album includes previously recorded tracks with other artists, some containing mature material. For example, "Cover of the Rolling Stone" mentions taking "pills for thrills," and a lady named "Kocaine Kitty," while the track "Got Stoned and I Missed It" uses euphemisms for marijuana to describe situations the main character experiences as a result of his habit.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bypokeymom April 9, 2008

I was shocked!

I bought this disc while searching for something to listen to while traveling with my children (ages 11 and 6). It was sold in the Children's section at b... Continue reading

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What's the story?

If you're a parent, you probably know Shel Silverstein's absolute classic books like The Giving Tree, Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic. However, you may not be familiar with an alternate Silverstein, who appeals more to Playboy audiences than playhouse ones. The 21-track BEST OF SHEL SILVERSTEIN reflects both versions equally. Once you get over the surprise of hearing your favorite children's writer sing about topics much more grown-up, you'll delightfully find that his songs sound like big-kid versions of his children's work; simply replace all the \"icky things\" with sex and drugs, put it over folk sounds and sweet harmonies, add classic Silverstein wit and humor, and you've got an album that's not just full of great music and poems, but hilarious too.

Is it any good?

Included in this album are some of Silverstein's previous recordings with great musicians like Johnny Cash, Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show, Willie Nelson, Bobby Bare, and Kris Kristofferson, offering wildly funny and musically engaging tracks. The album also includes 12 recordings of his most popular children's poems: "Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout/Would Not Take the Garbage Out," "The Homework Machine," "The Generals," and more. If you like poems with a laugh, check out Silverstein's kid-friendly website,, which contains a full list of his works, music, a biography, and hands-on activities for children.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the messages the songs are trying to convey, often on topics for teens and older.

Music details

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