Novelty Song Friday #13 — “Thumbsucker,” by Shel Silverstein

Per wikipedia:
There is a an eye-popping amount of information highlighting Shel in wikipedia. I’m including just a bit of it. If you want to learn more about his many talents, achievements, etc., I encourage you to click the link.

Sheldon Allan “Shel” Silverstein (9/25/30 – 5/10/99) was an American writer known for his cartoons, songs, and children’s books. He styled himself as Uncle Shelby in some works. His books have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold more than 20 million copies. He was the recipient of two Grammy Awards, as well as Golden Globe Award and Academy Award nominations.

Born into a Jewish family, Silverstein grew up in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago, attended Roosevelt High School and, later, the University of Illinois, from which he was expelled. He then enrolled in the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts which he was attending when he was drafted into the United States Army. He served in Japan and Korea.

Silverstein studied briefly at Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. His musical output included a large catalog of songs; a number of them were hits for other artists, most notably the rock group Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show. He wrote Tompall Glaser’s highest-charting solo single, “Put Another Log on the Fire”, “One’s on the Way” and “Hey Loretta” (both hits for Loretta Lynn, in 1971 and 1973 respectively), and “25 Minutes to Go“, sung by Johnny Cash, about a man on Death Row with each line counting down one minute closer. Silverstein also wrote one of Johnny Cash’s best known hits, “A Boy Named Sue” as well as “The Unicorn”, first recorded by Silverstein himself in 1962 but better known in its version by The Irish Rovers. Other songs co-written by Silverstein include “The Taker” written with Kris Kristofferson and recorded by Waylon Jennings, and a sequel to “A Boy Named Sue” called “Father of a Boy Named Sue”, which is less known, but he performed the song on television on The Johnny Cash Show.

Silverstein never married. He did, according to the 2007 biography A Boy Named Shel, sleep with “hundreds, perhaps thousands of women.”He was also a frequent presence at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion and Playboy Clubs.

He had one daughter, Shoshanna Jordan Hastings, born June 30, 1970, with Susan Taylor Hastings of Sausalito, California. He reportedly met her at the Playboy Mansion. Susan died on June 29, 1975, one day before Shoshanna’s fifth birthday, and Shoshanna went to live with her uncle and aunt in their Baltimore home. Shoshanna died April 24, 1982, at age 11, of a cerebral aneurysm. The book A Light in the Attic is dedicated to her.

He also has a son named Matthew, born November 10, 1984, with Sarah Spencer of Key West, Florida; Sarah drove a tourist trackless train and inspired Shel’s song, “The Great Conch Train Robbery.”

On May 10, 1999, Silverstein died at age 68 of a heart attack in Key West, Florida and was subsequently buried in Westlawn Cemetery in Norridge, Illinois.

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Shel Silverstein among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.

Freakin’ at the Freakers Ball is a studio album produced by Ron Haffkine written by Shel Silverstein originally released in 1972. “Thumbsucker” is the first track on the album.



I met her on a corner in Duluth
(That’s the truth.)
She was tryin’ to fix her shoe in a telephone booth
(Her name was Ruth.)

She said she was just waiting for a bus
But I hid my thumb cause I knew just what she was,
And I ain’t gonna let no thumbsucker such my thumb.
It’ll drive you crazy and leave you deaf and dumb.

It’ll make you crawl and climb the wall
Leave you without no thumb at all.
So I ain’t gonna let no thumbsucker suck my thumb.

I’ll tell you what them thumbsuckers like to do.
They suck your thumb till it’s wrinkled like a prune
They’ll say you’ve got the sweetest thumb of all
But then they suck the thumb of the guy livin’ down the hall
That’s why I ain’t gonna let no thumbsucker suck my thumb
Songwriters: Shel Silverstein

7 Comments Add yours

  1. What a crazy song and a great writeup on Shel. there is a great piano riff in this song, it really gets you jumping.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      I found it randomly and instantly loved it. Glad you enjoyed it also, Jim.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. hanspostcard says:

    He sure had an interesting career! Wrote some good songs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Yes he did. I don’t think his “hundreds, maybe thousands of women” was hyperbole either!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. badfinger20 (Max) says:

    I don’t remember this song in particular but I remember the album or reading about it. The song is out there…I like it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      This guy was a wild man! He lived large.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. badfinger20 (Max) says:

        The song by Dr. Hook… “Freaking at the Freaker’s Ball”? That is where I heard it before.

        Yes he was…he was his own man!

        Liked by 1 person

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