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Shel Silverstein discusses his books, children's literature, and art; part 2

BROADCAST: Nov. 20, 1961 | DURATION: 00:28:15


Shel Silverstein discusses his books and children's literature, and art. Shel Silverstein discusses his contemporaries, art, and life experiences.


Tap within the transcript to jump to that part of the audio.


Shel Silverstein Contemporaries and the ones younger.

Studs Terkel Well, anyway.

Shel Silverstein I don't know. I don't know. I think that I'd like to see among the contemporaries, you know, guys doin' good work. There are a lot of guys doin' good work in humor and, you know, writers and so forth. I don't find -- Let me just describe with the way you just said it. You've been talkin' to me and you desc -- You mentioned that just before we started the interview that you that you, you know, of the '30s you felt that you were, that you felt lately or often, that maybe you weren't in touch with things, that, you know, the younger ones were having a statement. Now, while you were saying this, you were showing, as you do, see, more energy, more drive and fire than than I could show being much younger. And it's funny you look at it it's like it's like listening to it's like listening to say somebody listenin' to Ted Williams tell you how he can't hit no more. And meanwhile he's hittin' the ball, you know, 200 yards farther than you can hit it now.

Studs Terkel Well, I like being put in the company of Ted Williams, I tell you that.

Shel Silverstein No, but it's the truth. So you sit there and you say how, you know, you may be out of touch. But meanwhile you're talkin' about more ideas and showin' more drive and energy. And then I show now when I'm supposed to be in touch with these things, I'd say that well, you know, this is a personality. This is your, this is you make, you know, and this is why you are different maybe than other people of, you know, that, you know, produced at the same time you do. But generally what I'd like to see among people my own age is more drive and more fire and more guts, you know, and more, you know, violent, you know, ideas on everything, you know, on everything, guys that really have ideas, but what I find these guys are, even the ones that do good work. They're nice people and all that, and they have their gripes and they have their ideas, but they don't get real mad and they don't get real, they don't get real glad either. They don't- there isn't anything they really love. And there isn't anything they really hate. And there isn't anything they're really ashamed of or disgusted by or appalled by or excited or delighted by, or there isn't anything that they really worship or really admire. It's sort of this middle thing where you go through, and yeah, you get along and you make your statement, you know, and and but personally you don't sense that they really, that they're really full of guts. You know what I mean? And there's a better word than guts, but I won't use it. But they don't they don't really have those things, you know. And that's what I'd like to see more. I just, I don't know the older people, the older creative people, they don't bother with me. They don't, you know, that they're doing their own stuff. But I always had the idea from reading their things and reading of their lives and hearing stories about the people that produced and still are producing but produce the bulk of their work. Just maybe all 15, 20 years ago up to 50 years ago, that they just had so much more, you know, guts and drive.

Studs Terkel Is it that the way is different perhaps today? I'm just wondering this is a crazy situation which I am seeking now to defend your contemporaries. And yet -- We're reversing positions. Isn't isn't isn't there a reason for it, perhaps? I don't know. The chips are so much more blue on the table what with the 50-megaton or whatnot overhead, that they cannot be, that must find some other way, isn't that why the phrase 'nonviolence' is heard so much these days?

Shel Silverstein Do you think? I just don't know. You think really that everybody wakes up in the morning and looks up above the bed and really thinks about that 50 megaton? I don't think so. I think that guys wake up every morning and they think about gettin' breakfast and some time during the day when they're thinking, they'll -- This will enter their thoughts. But I don't really believe that people are are doing anything they're doing because the fact that it may be over just like that tomorrow. I think it's a hell of a good excuse. I think if you want to go out and booze it up and get really bombed it's a great excuse. If you want to go out swingin' on a weekend, you know, that that's a great excuse to do it. You know, that you couldn't normally do it, it's a great excuse. You know, let's do it, let's do it now 'cause we may be dead. That's a great excuse. It's a great line, too, by the way.

Studs Terkel Yes.

Shel Silverstein Maybe I should use, I don't know. But you may be dead tomorrow, my dear, so, you know.

Studs Terkel Yes.

Shel Silverstein But I don't think people really think this way. I think we live life as we're used to living it. Maybe the young gen -- The new generation, the younger ones, you know, maybe they're gonna having always having the awareness of possible complete annihilation. Maybe that -- It'll change their living, I guess it has, 'cause the morals certainly are changing among, you know, of what they say the 15-year-olds are doing now from what they used to when I was a 15-year-old. But for us and for me, guys my age, we haven't really known any destruction or annihilation, so this stuff still remains stories and ideas and as strongly as we feel it, we've never, you know, we've grown up in another way where we, we're expected to live 'til, 'til 65, 70.

Studs Terkel You know, as you talk and again, [unintelligible] a wholly different generation, you're saying the same thing a friend of mine, a blues singer, Big Bill Broonzy said, and almost the same he says, "Unless something is experienced," and this is Bill's way of saying it, and yet you match him in your way. He says, he's been over to Europe, he says, and he says, "No point talkin' about the bomb here," he says, "It doesn't affect the people. When I -- Young kids white and black used to walk out on me when I'd sing about my mule dying. Well, no mule ever died on them, you see. So they don't know. So they walked out." And you think now of common experience. And yet isn't it the job of an artist to go beyond this?

Shel Silverstein That's right.

Studs Terkel To reach out

Shel Silverstein That's right.

Studs Terkel So that --

Shel Silverstein To give them --

Studs Terkel Something they never experienced.

Shel Silverstein That's right.

Studs Terkel And feel he did.

Shel Silverstein That's right. And still every word he says is true, you know, even if they did believe it, it wouldn't be, they couldn't really repeat it, you know. You know, one thing you see in the village, getting away from this for a second, but tying into it in a way, too. In Greenwich Village, New York we have lot of folksingers, you know, and in Washington Square there where they all get together and they just sing, I don't know why they're singin', but, you know, a lot of 'em singin' for all kind of different reasons, you know, but it's all good.

Studs Terkel Yet it's good.

Shel Silverstein It's all good because it's a good way of expressing a lot of different things and in little coffee shops, you know, one of the big things you'd hear often were the chain gang songs. You hear a chain gang song sung by a man who's been on a chain gang or who's been in a chain gang type life, you know what I mean? Close to it, and when he sings about it, it means somethin'. You see a pimply-faced 18-year-old white Protestant kid gettin' up there and beltin' it out about a chain gang and and you wonder what it's all about, you know? You start squirmin' in your seat wishin' they'd, you know, wishin' you could get your check and get out of there. He's, he's screamin' for somethin' else, then again, obviously, you know, but but he's talkin' about that chain gang. And then you see some 17-year-old little blonde girl. She gets up there and she sings songs, "I told my captain early in the mornin'", she don't know from captains, she don't know from chain gangs, and you know, captain shootin' her buddy dead, she doesn't know this, she she she wants to sing somethin' strong, she wants to yell.

Studs Terkel Isn't it good, though, that they sing at all? I mean, just --

Shel Silverstein No. I don't think it's good. No,

Studs Terkel

Shel Silverstein You don't think it's good. No, I think they should they should they should shut up. I think they should shut up and sing sing somethin' that more fits with what they know. I think they should write more songs, too. Nobody's writing songs, that's the thing that hurts me as far as song the songs go. People wrote about their life. Now I, I respect the life that's gone before, you know, and the people that lived before me and that produced, are living now, but produced the bulk of their work before me, but I don't think that their world was any more exciting than this thing right now. I mean, this is it, we're doing, we're doing things and we're, we're goin' along with things, and we're changin' things and things are happening to us, and songs can be written about our life. Now, naturally, you don't write a song about the subway the way you did about the old nine -- Wreck of the old '97 or somethin', or and you don't write a song about, maybe you don't write a song about Harry Truman the way they wrote songs about Lincoln, you know, but still and all, I'm not talkin' about that, I'm talkin' about songs about -- That reflect our own emotions, you know, that we're going through. And often you find people who sing folk songs, they get -- This is another pet peeve --

Studs Terkel No, go ahead, go ahead.

Shel Silverstein They get all involved in the song itself. They -- People ask me the words to a song, an old song, and I'll, you know, that I might sing, and I sing and they ask me, they say, "What was the words to that?" And I tell 'em, and they say, "On that one line, is it 'I woke up one morning' or 'I woke up in the morning'?"

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Shel Silverstein I think, "What the hell's the difference?", you know. You know, but they wanna do it like Leadbelly did it, and why don't you do it like you do it?

Studs Terkel Well, of course, this is --

Shel Silverstein And they're worshipping things, and I don't, I don't like people to worship anything strongly that much. Songs are made, these songs were made by people, they were changed. They were loved, they were changed, they were, they were adjusted to their ideas. We should keep doin' it, too. Instead of takin' a song and tryin' to imitate a colored accent, for God's sake. I mean, if you're colored, sing it colored,you know, or sing it as colored people sang it at one time. But why, you know, the song doesn't need an accent, it's a beautiful song. It can be sung by white, it can be sung by colored, but mostly sing it like you sing it.

Studs Terkel When you ask the performer or the artist, if you will, to be as close to --

Shel Silverstein That's right!

Studs Terkel Himself --

Shel Silverstein To himself!

Studs Terkel To reveal, another phrase that Bill used -- That we used about Bill: He revealed himself. In other words, isn't this art and revelation the person, everything you're saying reveals you right now, everything you've said earlier, the comments about the cartoons, about the children's books, about what you're saying now. Any artist who is an artist, he is on, in other words, these kids you're talking about, sing about something wholly alien to their being --

Shel Silverstein Right.

Studs Terkel [Unintelligible], therefore they are not revealing themselves.

Shel Silverstein I think so, and I think that there are two ways: I think you can either sing about something you do know and feel and then do it in the way another man would do it, because it's still something you feel, even though you do it in his style, or else you can do something that is completely foreign to your experience, but still do it in your own way and then it's still right 'cause it's done the way you feel. But to do something that you don't know about, in a way that isn't your own, this is phoniness, this is bull, this is garbage, and you can sing these country songs, too, hillbilly songs, without having to twang it up, you know, to develop a Western accent.

Studs Terkel Can we come to another aspect of you as you talk about the songs and writing, have there been, oh, jazz, perhaps, that you mentioned before, I understand that at the Gate of Horn where you are for the next three weeks, we should get a vital statistic, yet, for the next three weeks every night but Monday night --

Shel Silverstein Right.

Studs Terkel And that's the omnibus night.

Shel Silverstein Right.

Studs Terkel But while you're there, you do something I hear that's very appealing, a story of the blues.

Shel Silverstein Oh yeah. Well, that's the, most of the show really starts is satire.

Studs Terkel I know it.

Shel Silverstein On the folk singing and our country singing,

Studs Terkel

Shel Silverstein and on the blues -- Yeah. And one thing I do is an explanation of the blues where what you really should, you know, see it and hear it, I do it to this girl that sings the blues, and I give a oh, rather over-analytical, you know, professor-type explanation of what she's talking about, you know.

Studs Terkel 'Cause it's so true. You know that this happens --

Shel Silverstein Yeah.

Studs Terkel So often at festivals, particularly where there are seminars.

Shel Silverstein Right.

Studs Terkel This -- Earlier you were talking about the over-analysis, about how it is among the young, the self-analysis of the kids.

Shel Silverstein Right.

Studs Terkel This -- Again, nothing wrong with analysis.

Shel Silverstein Nothing wrong with it, nothing.

Studs Terkel Over-doing it.

Shel Silverstein It's, the only thing I object to in the music field is if the analysis overrides the whole idea of the music and sometimes you look at their eyes and you see them talking about the music and you know that they could just as well be talking about shoes. If you could make the history of shoes equally exciting, they'd talk about shoes. Because because they're talking about where the blues start and how they were, it's all a beautiful story. It's a wonderful story in itself. But don't forget the music! I mean don't, don't forget to tap your foot. Enjoy the music, too!

Studs Terkel That's something again that's -- Happens so, as they talk about this, the one element that's missing: joy.

Shel Silverstein Yeah!

Studs Terkel The joy is squeezed out of it. You know, 'Bunk' Johnson, an old jazz musician, [unintelligible] once said, and he shocked many of the jazz academicians in saying it, he says, "I like people to dance to my music."

Shel Silverstein Yeah.

Studs Terkel He's, "I like foot being tapped to the music."

Shel Silverstein That's right, that's right.

Studs Terkel And of course, the scholars, "Oh, no." Isn't this when the trouble with cool jazz, to some extent --

Shel Silverstein Absolutely. It's also one of the troubles with American jazz, period. Now, as you say, now most of the early New Orleans jazz was done for dancing. That was the whole purpose.

Studs Terkel That's how it came into being.

Shel Silverstein They weren't there to sit around and listen and look through catalogs and wonder if if Bix was on the same side with with Bunk and Bunk was on the same side and that afternoon or whether 'Red' Nichols sat in, or any of that. That's all -- Might be interesting, too. But this music was done for listening.

Studs Terkel [Unintelligible] someone working on his Ph.D.

Shel Silverstein Yeah.

Studs Terkel But they do.

Shel Silverstein Yeah, but most of 'em that, you know, people that -- It's like people that get the big hi-fi system and don't really like the music, and people get all involved in the jazz world don't really enjoy the sound, the music, you like jazz, you wanna move with it, you wanna, you wanna make some motion if you can't play it. You wanna swing with it in some way. You wanna do somethin' to it. But we sit around and we dig, you know, we dig it more than we we tapped to it, more than we dance it, more than we hum it or sing it or or move to it. We dig it. Now in Europe, it's very interesting. You hear the jazz played in Copenhagen, in Germany, in London. You hear this jazz played and it's all played in a big hall and everybody's up there dancin' to it. Now there are no steps they're doing, really, you know, they're not -- They haven't worked out any formal steps. We're very concerned with that here. If you don't know the step, you stay off the dance floor it doesn't matter how much music's inside you or how much the music is moving you, if you don't know that step, don't make a fool of yourself, stay off the dance floor. So if you do know the step then you can go out and put on a little show, you know, and dance. It's not right. Do you have to just really know the step, or can't you just move? Well, in Europe they get out there and they move. They're doin' silly things and they're just often --

Studs Terkel Just the joy of being.

Shel Silverstein Often the --

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Shel Silverstein Girl's got 'er hand on the guy's shoulder, he's got 'er by the, holding her by the waist, and they're just moving back and forth. Nothin' sexy about it. Nothin' romantic about it, they're moving to the music. Some of 'em doing sort of jitterbug step, some of 'em sort of inventing a step, nobody really caring too much what the next guy's --

Studs Terkel Indicates --

Shel Silverstein Doing.

Studs Terkel They're alive. That --

Shel Silverstein Yes.

Studs Terkel They're alive.

Shel Silverstein And they're dancin' to the jazz. And here we don't. And not only are we so analytical and cool here, but then along comes somethin' like rock'n'roll, where young kids really do get up, and the young ones always will, you know, they always will. People are saying, "This'll lead to decadence," and "This is lead to mob gang violence and juvenile delinquency." That's garbage. Young people wanna dance, they wanna, they want loud, vibrant music. They wanna really blast, you know. And we talk about how terrible the music is. Well, what do we do? We sit around listening listening to a lot of, a lot of, you know, 5000 notes inside of two seconds, you know, and we sit around and we nod our head and, you know, you know, very knowingly and meanwhile they're dancin', they're moving to things. And the same thing with this twist craze now. One of the things in this twist craze is that in New York I know that people get up and do it merely because such a ridiculous simple thing. They, it doesn't, there isn't too much [depth? step?] to it, so everybody can almost do it and you find people, old people, getting up there and they do a little Charleston-type or somebody getting up there and doing a little rumba step too, it doesn't matter what you do. I don't particularly like that twist stuff but I understand people getting up there and doin' it.

Studs Terkel Doing something --

Shel Silverstein Because they --

Studs Terkel Doing something --

Shel Silverstein Can do something and it's alive and it swings. So you can't put down the young people 'cause they like rock'n'roll. They like driving stuff. You can't tell 'em what not to like unless you give 'em somethin' else to like. Give 'em a better music to like. Don't say, "Sit back and enjoy, enjoy classical music because I do." Or go for New Orleans jazz merely because I do love it. And I do love it. Sure. Give 'em somethin' else that drives just as much. Give 'em a lyric that's more intelligent than their silly lyrics. But that still swings!

Studs Terkel Because as you're talking now, Shel Silverstein, you're talking now, you are negating what you said earlier, you, with the energy and the passion you show now. If you are representative of, perhaps you're not, you are I know a highly creative figure, perhaps a bit too rare. If you are representative of the generation of people of the 30-age bracket or the younger ones, then we're in good shape.

Shel Silverstein Yeah, well, thank you very much. But but what I wanna really say is that you can't tell somebody what not to like.

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Shel Silverstein Until you give 'em somethin' else to like. You can't tell a girl, "Don't go with this guy you love."

Studs Terkel Course, now you --

Shel Silverstein Give 'er a guy she does love!

Studs Terkel But now you've come to another point. Give us something something they like, something they can admire. Is this what you feel is missing today, too, there's so much negation? Is there -- I don't wanna use the word 'affirmation', it's been so abused and overused and misused. But is this something that they like, is that what's missing today as a model for for the younger?

Shel Silverstein I don't know.

Studs Terkel Something strong. I don't mean a person. I don't mean a statesman. I'm mean an idea perhaps, or a way, or?

Shel Silverstein I don't know. We're becoming pretty cool in general, the whole country becoming sophisticated, we dress well. You know, that's another thing, too. It doesn't really, it ties in a way. I ran into an old photograph. I think it was at, I think maybe it was during the Van Gogh show they had here at the at the Art Institute or else it was in a in a book of Gauguin, I don't really know, but it was a photograph of the Impressionist artists of Paris at the time. That's all, I do remember it now. You should have seen that photograph. There must have been 30 guys in that photograph, Studs. 30 guys. You know, the way they took this long photograph. You know, they had about ten cafe tables pushed together. Some were sitting, some were standing, some were kneeling, you know. And there must have been around 25, 30 guys altogether. It was an amazing thing to see. Out of the 30 guys, not one of 'em had the same hat. You know, really, some guys were wearin' berets, some guys had tams, some guys had big floppy hats, some guys in bowlers and straws, every guy had a different hat. Not one guy had -- They all had sort of whiskers. Now, one guy had sort of the same kind. Some guys had a full beard and no mustache. Some guy had a mustache and no beard. Some had a goatee, some had these long sideburns. They had different kind of scarfs on, and clothes on. Now these were 30 guys. Each guy was dressin' for himself. Now naturally, artists will always be a little more individualistic than most people, you know, because they're tryin' for a lot of reasons to do it. But the whole idea that at this time you could see 60 different styles, you know, and at the same time in the same photograph. If you had to take a photograph today of 20 of any people, I don't care, you take 20 bakers or butchers, 20 of the top artists, 20 of the top radio TV people, you know what that photograph's gonna look like, it's gonna look like a graduation picture. They're all gonna be in their 3-button suits, every guy. If you've got one individualist, he might have a 2-button suit on, or a 4-button suit. They're all gonna have that light shirt, they're all gonna have that dark tie. Their hair is all gonna be cut. If you got one guy with a mustache, well then, he's a bohemian. One guy with a beard, well, he is so far out altogether he can't --

Studs Terkel Well, as you say that, I think of another picture. You mentioned this picture and what you see, a picture of a rainy day. I've been at a suburban railroad depot, any depot at a rainy day --

Shel Silverstein Yeah

Studs Terkel -- A big city --

Shel Silverstein Yeah --

Studs Terkel New York, and you see the same foot, the same trench coat --

Shel Silverstein The same

Studs Terkel thing -- The same umbrellas, say the --

Shel Silverstein The same haircut, we all get our hair cut.

Studs Terkel The same ties.

Shel Silverstein All the same. I was -- I went to a class. You know Bob Cosby --

Studs Terkel Yes.

Shel Silverstein From Roosevelt University, who was an instructor --

Studs Terkel Was Bob your teacher?

Shel Silverstein He was. He was the greatest teacher I have ever had in my life.

Studs Terkel He was a good man.

Shel Silverstein He taught me more about writing than I could ever, you know, ever learn anywhere. And last night Nicky and I, we went down and she and I sat in on his class and there was a whole row of students in front of us. And I just, I couldn't help but look at the back of their heads. And they all had the same haircut. It wasn't, it wasn't a very short haircut. But then again it wasn't three weeks old, either. It just [unintelligible] that everybody's getting their hair cut at about the same time. Well now, I don't say this is wrong. I don't wanna seem like I'm against haircuts. I'm not. You should get your hair cut. But get it cut when you want it cut. And, you know, wear the kind of clothes that will show you off. Some time you're sitting around and everybody's sitting around and some sort of a real oddball walks in, somebody who's dressed atrociously and everybody says, "Wow, gee, look at that, isn't that goofy?" By the same token, they're delighted to have it. It's life. Somebody's brought in something fresh and new to their, to their dark gray, 3-button cocktail-in-the-hand world.

Studs Terkel And they can be talked about --

Shel Silverstein That's right.

Studs Terkel As something. Isn't there something out there, too?

Shel Silverstein But don't you think we all owe that that to other people, to bring them a little bit of excitement, of our self. Don't you think we all owe to bring in something a little goofy, a little strange?

Studs Terkel Mostly to yourself, though.

Shel Silverstein Yeah, but to them, too. And they'll bring it to you back, but mostly to everybody. It's like putting something in the pot, you know?

Studs Terkel 'Cause this fear of being different, again. Little children, or very little children, now we know have this fear of when you're young, says you're afraid to be different, you wanna be a part of whatever the group psych status is, but isn't this a sign of immaturity, then, this sameness, in a way, is maturity the complete differentiation --

Shel Silverstein I think so.

Studs Terkel Of the individuals [unintelligible].

Shel Silverstein I think it maybe you go, maybe you start out your own way? I'm sure we all do. You see young kids, the way they dress and the way they talk that they've all got personalities, you know, those real little ones, they start out all right. They start out with --

Studs Terkel At their very beginning, yes --

Shel Silverstein Their own ideas.

Studs Terkel But I mean but then when -- When consciousness set

Shel Silverstein At the very beginning -- in, there's this great

Studs Terkel

Shel Silverstein At the very beginning -- When consciousness sets in -- When consciousness set in, there's this great conformity, this great, to be well-dressed, to be well-bred, not to have your own [mask?].

Studs Terkel A TV commercial, if you will

Shel Silverstein -- Everything.

Studs Terkel And to buy that particular [unintelligible].

Shel Silverstein Right. So

Studs Terkel

Shel Silverstein Whatever you [unintelligible]. So then it all becomes one, then you -- You know, like I go home to my folks' house, you know. And here I am, I'm a guy that's doing pretty good, you know. I've got a good name, a good everything, people allow me, you know, the privilege of being as different as I wanna be and I'm not really too different, you know. But in any case they allow this to me, they'll allow it to anybody that really demands it. You wanna dress like you want. You fight 'em for a little while, and then you can have 'em. Now I go home, and I'm wearing, say, a trench coat. My mother says, "Well, why are you wearing a trench coat?" She says, "They're not wearing it this year." They! Who is this 'they'?

Studs Terkel Who is 'they'?

Shel Silverstein They are wearing it. They don't -- They are going to see this show, you know. They are really filling up the amphitheater this week. They they listen to this show. They, you know, they are not doing it, they are reading this, who is they, and why, and who cares about they?

Studs Terkel [Unintelligible].

Shel Silverstein And why should I do it 'cause they do it?

Studs Terkel This is, this come back, this comebacks to Riesman's outer- and inner-directed man. [No way?] They. We have too few, apparently, who are -- I don't wanna use this phrase, it's just so, but inner-directed, too few who mold their own selves.

Shel Silverstein The 'they' is invariably associated with a higher force that is never quite defined. They won't let you do this on TV. They won't publish this kind of book. They won't, you know, they won't come out with this kind of movie. They are wearing this this year. The 'they, the 'they' is this vague force or, used again, even a higher force which is the public approval used by people saying, "Oh, they'd never like this." But they probably would like it. You know, who wouldn't like it? And so the 'they' is the lowest possible level --

Studs Terkel They is also -- But they also are

Shel Silverstein

Studs Terkel Of appreciation. But they also are something else involved today. I know this is ridiculous how close we have come to the end of an hour here [unintelligible]. But they again, 'they' is impersonal, isn't it?

Shel Silverstein Always. Always.

Studs Terkel And the age we live --

Shel Silverstein Always [unintelligible].

Studs Terkel In has been described as somewhat impersonal, hasn't it?

Shel Silverstein Yeah.

Studs Terkel They. So the artist is so personal. And you, guest this morning, Shel Silverstein, are an artist and you owe then what you're doing, you're continuously questioning and challenging 'they', the impersonal really.

Shel Silverstein The impersonal is always is all the way through. Studs, do you know much about the hip talk of today? About the --

Studs Terkel Not much.

Shel Silverstein Hip vernacular?

Studs Terkel Go ahead, let's hear some.

Shel Silverstein It really reflects the same thing you mentioned. It's the, it's the lack of personal touch in anything. For instance, you don't like something or loves something, you dig it, you know. Digging more than really liking or loving. You don't you don't really enjoy something or work with something, you groove behind it, all a physical sort of reference there in the images. You don't make love, they call it 'balling.'

Studs Terkel Balling.

Shel Silverstein Now this is like a game, again, you know. You don't, you don't dislike something, you put it down. You --

Studs Terkel Well, funny, it's funny, meaning what? It's funny, meaning it's strange, you don't like it. It's funny. Funny. Doesn't that mean you don't like it?

Shel Silverstein No, if you don't like it, you just don't dig it. Or --

Studs Terkel But this --

Shel Silverstein You know.

Studs Terkel Isn't what you're saying here, is the, these words --

Shel Silverstein It's all -- Words.

Studs Terkel Are all -- Yeah, all --

Shel Silverstein Very impersonal --

Studs Terkel

Shel Silverstein Are all -- Very impersonal -- Unemotional. Words. Yeah, all --

Studs Terkel The emotion, in other words, the words with emotional connotations are eliminated from the vocabulary.

Shel Silverstein Yeah. All of it.

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Shel Silverstein You know. Now, and you certainly, you know, people say, "Well, this is only the hippie. This is only the beatniks." These these are words that are coming right through into our -- They're just as much part of our, you know, of our vernacular, that general vernacular as anything else is. These are words that are coming in. Things swing. It's an easy way of summing things up too, you know, one word for a few things and it saves you the trouble of really telling why you like something.

Studs Terkel Well, I think it's clear, Shel, just in talking, I think we should have another another stanza.

Shel Silverstein Any time.

Studs Terkel Session encore. Obviously, there's much more to talk about with you.

Shel Silverstein Yeah.

Studs Terkel Shel Silverstein, who I'm sure it's obvious to listeners, is a vital being, a thoughtful one but very entertaining one. And this is what's important to people who go to nightclubs anywhere, entertaining at the same time there's a little element called residue, this thing you take with you as you leave. So, this is your debut, is this your debut?

Shel Silverstein Yeah. First time.

Studs Terkel As a man on the stage.

Shel Silverstein Yeah.

Studs Terkel As a --

Shel Silverstein I've sung around a lot, you know, but never never regular.

Studs Terkel So these are monologues?

Shel Silverstein These are little speeches and songs.

Studs Terkel And songs.

Shel Silverstein A lot of --Mostly my own songs, I do --

Studs Terkel Your own --

Shel Silverstein My own songs.

Shel Silverstein Oh, you compose, too.

Shel Silverstein Yeah, I've got over 40 songs that I've written. And I don't do 'em all, but I do a lot of my own songs, some are funny and some are straight, you know, and --

Studs Terkel At the Gate of Horn.

Shel Silverstein At the Gate of Horn.

Studs Terkel That should be I'm sure a very rich experience for people to go there every night for the next three weeks except --

Shel Silverstein Yeah.

Studs Terkel

Shel Silverstein Monday night -- And then I'm through. I'm not gonna keep doing it.

Studs Terkel Why don't you -- Something

Shel Silverstein

Studs Terkel Aren't you? No, I'm really not. I've decided not. Something else will interest you, is that it?

Shel Silverstein Yeah. I just, I've had chances now, you know, from the opening night, it was very successful, and they said, "Well, how about doing this club and that club?", you know, offers, and I'm not gonna do any of it.

Studs Terkel Well, in that case, I think it's pretty imperative for listeners, those who want to, not, we don't know as you said earlier, people must be allowed to do what they want to do. This is probably the only chance, then, to see you in action --

Studs Terkel Yeah, one of.

Studs Terkel At the Gate of Horn, Shel Silverstein.

Shel Silverstein Unless they come over to my house sometime.

Studs Terkel In New York. Thank you very much, Shel.

Shel Silverstein Thank you, Studs. It was a great honor being here.