Blog, SLS

Song Lyric Sunday – Sylvia’s Mother

The thing I love about Song Lyric Sunday is that I learn so much about songs I thought I knew. Jim Adams brings us these words to consider this morning: Listen/Hear/Talk/Speak. I was not sure what song I felt might fit the bill when this one popped into my head.

“Sylvia’s Mother” was recorded in 1972 and by Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show and ended up being their first hit. The song was from their first album Dr. Hook reaching #1 in Australia and Ireland, #2 in the UK and #5 in the U.S.

The band, from Union City, New Jersey, shortened their name to Dr. Hook in 1975. The band was formed by three southern musicians George Cummings, Ray Sawyer, and Billy Francis, all from the band Chocolate Papers. Dennis recruited Dennis Locorriere as bass player also from Chocolate Papers. Locorriere went on to become the primary vocalist for the band.

The first surprising fact to me was the songwriter — Shel Silverstein. This song was written based on a true experience in his life when he tried to recapture his lost relationship with Silvia Pandolfi, who eventually went on to marry someone else.

The second surprise was in my research I discovered Jim had written about this song back in 2018. His post is rich with detail and I have tried not to repeat everything Jim wrote. You should definitely read his post.

Shel Silverstein wrote a number of songs for various artists although many people are only familiar with him as an author, poet and cartoonist. Country music artist Bobby Bare, Sr. was close friends with Shel Silverstein. He and his son, Bobby Bare, Jr. put together a tribute album of Shel Silverstein songs entitled “Twistable Turnable Man” with Andrew Bird performing the title track, one of Shel Silverstein’s poems.

UK group The Men They Couldn’t Hang sang an answer song “Mrs. Avery” on their album “Devil on the Wind”.

“Sylvia’s Mother” was covered by others, including Bon Jovi. I have posted the Dr. Hook version along with the Bon Jovi Version for comparison. Notice the intro on the Dr. Hook video.

Sylvia’s Mother
Lyrics from azlyrics.com

Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Sylvia’s busy
Too busy to come to the phone’
Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Sylvia’s tryin’
To start a new life of her own’
Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Sylvia’s happy
So why don’t you leave her alone?’

And the operator says, ’40 cents more for the next 3 minutes’
Please Mrs. Avery, I just gotta talk to her
I’ll only keep her a while
Please Mrs. Avery, I just wanna tell ‘er goodbye

Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Sylvia’s packin’
She’s gonna be leavin’ today’
Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Sylvia’s marryin’
A fella down Galveston way’
Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Please don’t say nothin’
To make her start cryin’ and stay’

And the operator says, ’40 cents more for the next 3 minutes’
Please Mrs. Avery, I just gotta talk to her
I’ll only keep her a while
Please Mrs. Avery, I just wanna tell ‘er goodbye

Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Sylvia’s hurryin’
She’s catchin’ the nine o’clock train’
Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Take your umbrella
Cause Sylvie, it’s startin’ to rain’
And Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Thank you for callin’
And, sir, won’t you call back again?’

And the operator says, ’40 cents more for the next 3 minutes’
Please Mrs. Avery, I just gotta talk to her
I’ll only keep her a while
Please Mrs. Avery, I just wanna tell ‘er goodbye

Tell her goodbye

Please
Tell her goodbye

19 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday – Sylvia’s Mother”

  1. This was a huge hit in Britain, and I remember it very well. I could sing most of the lyrics from memory, but I confess that I never liked it. In fact, it was played so much back then, I came to hate it. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

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