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Guest Mixtape: Peter Broderick “Shelled Up With Shel”

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Presented here is a guest mix by the renowned U.S.-born composer and multi-instrumentalist Peter Broderick, dedicated to the poems, songs and writings of American writer Shel Silverstein (1930 – 1999). During 2020, Broderick has himself published his first book of children’s writing, with the self-published “Bob & Stuff”, illustrated entirely by Broderick also. This year has also marked the release of the second volume of Broderick’s covers of the legendary Arthur Russell with the live record “Peter Broderick & Friends Play More Arthur Russell”, culled from various performances across the UK and Ireland in 2019.


Peter Broderick – “Shelled Up With Shel MIX”

01. A Light In The Attic
02. A Front Row Seat To Hear Ole Johnny Sing
03. Have Another Espresso
04. Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me Too
05. Dirty Ol’ Me
06. Broken Down Mama
07. Plastic (excerpt)
08. Squishy Touch
09. Thumbsucker
10. Someone Ate The Baby
11. It Does Not Pay To Be Hip
12. The Floobie Doobie Doo
13. Time
14. Boa Constrictor
15. Backward Bill
16. You’re Always Welcome At Our House
17. So Good To So Bad
18. 26 Second Song

All tracks by Shel Silverstein.



It started when I recorded some new tunes last summer and shared them with some close friends and family. One dear friend (shout out to Mr. Daniel O’Sullivan!) told me my songs reminded him of Shel Silverstein. Shel Silverstein! I grew up reading the poems of Shel Silverstein! And now I read them sometimes with my step-son!

I don’t think Shel Silverstein made it quite as big over here in Europe, but in America, around my generation, you’d have a hard time finding someone who doesn’t know who Shel Silverstein is. I remember thinking as a kid, He sure does like like a weirdo, when seeing his strange portraits on the backs of his books. I always thought he looked kind of scary, and definitely very mysterious.

And at some point, several months ago, I got curious and started looking him up online. Who IS this guy, anyway?. And I was fascinated by what I read. Born in 1930, he was drafted into the army, where he got a job making cartoons! Cartoons in the army! And shortly after that he was making cartoons for Playboy magazine. How on Earth did this guy end up making all these children’s books?

My curiosity rocket-launched when I discovered that this guy, the same Shel Silverstein, wrote many hit songs for many different singers (including ‘A Boy Named Sue’, made famous by Johnny Cash), and released a handful of solo records of his own. So I tracked down one of these solo records on the internet, and then I got another, and another, and another, and then I couldn’t stop until I had acquired them all.

The first thing you’ll notice upon hearing Shel Silverstein on record is that the guy is an absolutely maniac! I suppose it’s not hugely surprising that his own music career never really took off. But it’s quite remarkable that he did as much as he did, and personally, I just adore him. So unique, so strange, so himself . . . just being his wild self. It sounds like he can’t help it! The man seems to have made many musician friends throughout his life, and by all accounts that I’ve been able to find, he was an incredible friend to have. Full of life, and hyper creative.

I must confess, there are some aspects of Shel’s humor which are a bit hard for me to swallow, especially considering how sensitive today’s culture is in regards to political correctness. But I must also confess, that I am not deterred by these sometimes off-putting gags. I find so much to love in Shel’s thrilling, wild spirit. Some folks may find him a bit too abrasive, but I’m really grateful for the bravery and integrity of this demented, shouting, loveable monster.

This mix sounds a bit lo-fi because it was recorded directly from my turntable into my laptop, with less-than-ideal equipment. But I hope it might let enough of Shel’s essence to shine through and just make you stop for a second and go, Wait, what?!?!?

—Peter Broderick, 2020

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July 6, 2020 at 11:54 am