SONG TITLE: SYLVIA’S MOTHER
PERFORMER: DR. HOOK AND THE MEDICINE SHOW
SONGWRITER: SHEL SILVERSTEIN
YEAR OF RELEASE: 1972
COMMENTS: This record is one of the tenderest and purest descriptions of that devastating loss of a first breakup. It doesn’t quite say this in the lyric, but the freshness of the wound that sounds in this melody, the lonely violin and harmonica (there’s an interesting sound combination), the aching quavering vulnerability in the singer’s voice - all these things leave a lingering imprint.
This is a lot of weight being given to a little pop song by some budding middle aged perverts. (Best I can figure, their Dr. Hook was already 35.) Indeed, there is something quite odd about a 30 something sounding like a teenager getting his heart broke for the first time. Like there’s been some real hurt to inform all the carefully crafted anarchic decadence of their more typical work (ie “Freaker’s Ball” or “Makin’ It Natural”).
A quarter century later as I reach that age, the song still sticks with me because it is emotionally real, because they make me grok the guy’s feelings. It has soul, so I call it art.
Music Sustains the Soul
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