Twistable Turnable Man: A Musical Tribute to the Songs of Shel Silverstein

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Celebrated children’s author Shel Silverstein (The Giving Tree) also left a Nashville songwriting legacy, his most readily remembered country concoction being Johnny Cash’s 1967 hit “A Boy Named Sue.” The uninitiated might conclude that the multitalented writer/illustrator specialized in novelty songs, but that would be dead wrong. Behind the late songwriter’s wry humor lie penetrating truths about the human condition—truths that abound on the tribute album Twistable Turnable Man. Among the impossibly diverse lineup of artists offering respects and heartfelt, imaginative performances are Kris Kristofferson, venerable honky-tonker Ray Price, Lucinda Williams and John Prine, whose weathered voices perfectly embody the ragged survivors who inhabit Silverstein’s songs. Amid the album’s backdrop of irony and hard knocks are unexpectedly affirming moments (like “Daddy What If,” which lands a mean left hook to the tear ducts) that reveal Shel Silverstein’s heart was as tender as his sense of humor was wicked and his eye for human foibles was sharp.

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