Couch Potato

Shel Silverstein was gifted at almost everything that he ever tried, being a cartoonist for Playboy magazine, and also writing poetry for Hugh Hefner’s magazine.  He published several children’s books and he composed more than 800 songs.  In 1959, he released his first album, Hairy Jazz that featured two original compositions along with a group of other jazz standards.  In 1962, he released Inside Folk Songs, which included all original songs that took a satirical view of the folk-music craze.  Silverstein wrote ‘The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan’ for Marianne Faithful, ‘The Unicorn’ for The Irish Rovers, ‘A Boy Named Sue’ and ‘25 Minutes To Go’ for Johnny Cash, ‘Hey Loretta’, ‘Here I Am Again’ and ‘One’s On The Way’ for Loretta Lynn, ‘Daddy What If’, ‘Marie Laveau’, ‘Tequila Sheila’, ‘The Winner’ and ‘Hippie and Redneck Romance’ for Bobby Bare, ‘My Heart Was The Last One To Know’ for Kris Kristofferson, ‘Wrong Ideas’ and ‘Big Four Poster Bed’ for Brenda Lee, ‘Put Another Log On the Fire’ for Tompall Glaser, ‘The Taker’ for Waylon Jennings, ‘Queen of the Silver Dollar’ for Emmylou Harris and his own songs which he recorded ‘I Got Stoned And I Missed It’, ‘It went From So Good to So Bad So Soon’, ‘Yes, Mr. Rogers’ and ‘The Mermaid’.  Shel Silverstein also wrote the soundtrack to the 1970 Mick Jagger film Ned Kelly and the Oscar-nominated song ‘I’m Checkin’ Out’ for the 1990 comedy drama film Postcards from the Edge which stared Meryl Streep, Shirley MacLaine, and Dennis Quaid.  Silverstein also produced more than a dozen albums over the course of his diverse career.

In 1970, Silverstein was asked to write the songs to the soundtrack of the musical production, “Who Is Harvey Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?”, which starred Dustin Hoffman.  At the time, the film’s musical director, Ron Haffkine, was searching for a band to perform the songs, when the manager of Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show contacted Haffkine about the group.  Dr. Hook ended up recording all the songs for Kellerman and Silverstein wrote all the songs on their self titled first album.  The single ‘Sylvia’s Mother’ was so popular that it shot to #1 on the pop charts all over the world and was played endlessly on AM radio.  Silverstein contributed all the songs to Dr. Hook’s follow-up album, Sloppy Seconds, and ‘The Cover of “Rolling Stone”’ was a big hit on this, and they continued to sing and record more of Silverstein’s songs.

In 1998, Bobby Bare Sr. formed a group called Old Dogs, with country legends Waylon Jennings, Mel Tillis and Jerry Reed.  Their album included 11 humorous songs, all written by Silverstein, about the realization of aging and what it feels like to get older.  Silverstein wrote the songs after Bare told him that there were “no good songs about growing old”.  Bobby Bare and author/songwriter Shel Silverstein were great friends, and they were mutual admirers of each other’s work.  In 2010, Bobby produced a tribute album to his late friend titled Turnable, Twistable Man that contained many of Shel’s best-known songs.  Most of the tracks feature Chip Young on acoustic guitar and it includes songs by Kris Kristofferson, Ray Price, Bobby Bare Jr. and others.  ‘A Boy Named Sue’ won Silverstein a Grammy for Best Country Song in 1970.  Silverstein died of a heart attack at the age of 68 on May 10, 1999 in Key West, Florida.  In 2002, he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

A couch potato is defined as a person who spends little or no time exercising and a great deal of time watching television and me being a blogger, I have first-hand experience at being one.  In the case of the real couch potato, a comfortable sofa becomes the fertile soil for them to spend most of their time.  The Old Dogs recorded ‘Couch Potato’ on their one and only album.

You painted up your face and got your mini skirt on tight
Honey are you contemplating goin’ out again tonight?
Just cause my eyes are blurry watching TV ‘til the dawn
That don’t mean, that I can’t see what’s been goin’ on
That’s right baby… I ain’t no fool, I ain’t blind neither
Well darlin’, you been grouchin’,
that I’ve been slouchin’
on the couch and drinkin’ beer, watchin T.V.,
eatin Fritos and takin’ naps
and you said that sooner or later
you knew I’d turn in to a couch potater
with my popcorn bowl still be here on my lap
so you started cutting capers with all my friends and neighbors
comin home after the late late show full of lines,
excuses and lies and you think I’m unsuspecting
of all the loves you been collectin’ whoa,
but even couch potatoes have eyes
even couch potatoes can tell a bad tomato
I’ve been baked and whipped and fried
‘til I got, I got wise
So don’t think I’m unaware of just who you been takin’ care of
Cause even couch potatoes have eyes
Feelings, I get nothing more than peelings
While you’re out all night long with other guys
I might be a lazy loafer for dozin’ on this sofer
But even couch potatoes have eyes
Even a couch potato can tell a bad tomato
I’ve been baked and whipped and fried
‘til I got wise, I got wise
Why must you tear me all apart?
Even artichokes have hearts
And even couch potatoes have eyes
Darling, even couch potatoes have eyes

Written for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Bonus Wordle, hosted by Yves where the prompt is to write a poem inspired by one of the famous poets in the picture above. I didn’t write a poem, but since I like music, I wrote about Shel Silverstein.

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