COMMENTS: More concise and even funnier than Zappa on the topic, this record is the definitive satire of the post-Beatles rock movement. The lyric hits squarely on the neurotic narcisstic longings and crass cliched overindulgences in sex and drugs and publicity seeking of spoiled little dumbass rock singers. Silverstein really hit every button of ridiculous cliche in the culture, such the “gen-u-ine Indian guru who’s teaching us a better way.” And the costume designer/cocaine dealer. And the ultimate teenage rebel’s revenge: “I’ve got my poor old gray-haired daddy driving my limousine.”


Indeed, they have everything they ever wanted, except for seeing their pictures on the single most prestigious magazine cover. Seems that lack of this particular magazine cover is making the singer crazy. The theme is ultimately about how unfulfilling the existence of a rock star can actually be.


Broadly the song is in the country barroom sing-along variety. The melody is simple and instantly memorable, in a small vocal range. I was a little young to see it, but I could readily imagine a tableful of drunks belting it out together, just digging the pure pleasure.


Much of the success of this group must go to the arranger and the band itself. In their best country hippie mode, they created a sound palette in its own way nearly as good as the Band. “Country hippie” would be good broad description of their sound, but it is a unique creation not to be mistaken for the Band or the Grateful Dead or anyone else. Check out the perfect little “guitar solo”, in itself a pretty good parody of rock guitar playing. That would not have come from those other guys. Also note the running commentary from the steel guitar and the barnyard harmony vocals. These guys had more fun playing than anyone this side of the Beastie Boys.


On a personal note, this 45 rpm single was the first record I ever actually spent my own money on. Maybe this particular record was the thing that sent me off on, well, that other path.

Holla Back!

Shel Silverstein

Music Sustains the Soul

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