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Indie Rockers Record Shel Silverstein Album

Posted: 05/02/10 07:21 PM ET

You're probably familiar with Johnny Cash's rendition of "A Boy Named Sue," but did you know it was written by beloved children's poet Shel Silverstein? Youtube has a clip of Cash and Silverstein performing the song on The Johnny Cash Show here.

Silverstein, the self-described author of "weird children's books" was actually a successful songwriter too, penning them for Cash, Loretta Lynn and Bobby Bare among others.

Indie rockers and Sugar Hill Records are now bringing some of Silverstein's greatest songs back to life with the album "Twistable, Turnable Man." Scheduled for release on June 8th, the album will include covers by My Morning Jacket, Andrew Bird, Lucinda Williams and Kris Kristofferson among others.

My Morning Jacket leads off the album with "Lullabys, Legends and Lies." Silverstein's familiar, playful nature is immediately apparent.

Gather round fellows I'll tell you some tales about murder and blueberry pies
And heroes and hells and bottomless wells and lullabys legends and lies
And gather round ladies come sit at my feet I'll sing about warm sunny skies
There's mermaids and beans and lovin' machines in my lullabys legends and lies

Andrew Bird performs a terrific version of a poem you might remember from your childhood, "The Twistable Turnable Man"

He's the Twistable Turnable Squeezable Pullable
Stretchable Foldable Man.
He can crawl in your pocket or fit your locket
Or screw himself into a twenty-volt socket,
Or stretch himself up to the steeple or taller,
Or squeeze himself into a thimble or smaller,
Yes he can, course he can,
He's the Twistable Turnable Squeezable Pullable
Stretchable Shrinkable Man.
And he lives a passable life
With his Squeezable Lovable Kissable Hugable
Pullable Tugable Wife.
And they have two twistable kids
Who bend up the way that they did.
And they turn and they stretch
Just as much as they can
For this Bendable Foldable
Do-what-you're-toldable
Easily moldable
Buy-what you're-soldable
Washable Mendable
Highly Dependable
Buyable Saleable
Always available
Bounceable Shakeable
Almost unbreakable
Twistable Turnable Man.

"The Ballad of Lucy Jordan," plaintively performed by Lucinda WIlliams on the new album, shows off Silverstein's more mature side (he did have one!). Here's an excerpt:

The morning sun touched lightly on the eyes of Lucy Jordan
In a white suburban bedroom in a white suburban town
As she lay there 'neath the covers dreaming of a thousand lovers
Till the world turned to orange and the room went spinning round.

At the age of thirty-seven she realised she'd never
Ride through Paris in a sports car with the warm wind in her hair.
So she let the phone keep ringing and she sat there softly singing
Little nursery rhymes she'd memorised in her daddy's easy chair.

You can watch Marianne Faithful perform the entire song here (though I like what I've heard Williams' version much better).

And for a taste of what's coming in June, you can preview all the songs from the new album at the Sugar Hill Records website.