January 18

Did You Know That “Sylvia’s Mother” By Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show Was Based on a True Story?

In 1972, country rock band Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show released “Sylvia’s Mother” as a single off the group’s debut album, Dr. Hook. The song was a massive hit: it reached No. 5 on Billboard Hot 100, as well as No. 1 both in Ireland and South Africa, while No. 2 in the United Kingdom. The song also ranked atop Australian Kent Music Report for three weeks in Australia. 

Meaning Behind The Song

Written by singer-songwriter Shel Silverstein, “Sylvia’s Mother” finds Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show singing about a lovesick guy trying to reconnect with his lover, Sylvia. So, the man gave Sylvia a call before it was too late – only to find her mother, Mrs. Avery, at the receiving end.

Mrs. Avery told him Sylvia was too occupied to answer the phone. She then delivered the heart-shattering news of Sylvia preparing to marry someone else and is about to start a new life in Galveston, Texas.

“And Sylvia’s mother said, ‘Thank you for calling and, sir, won’t you call back again?'” the song goes. 

Silverstein was a remarkable storyteller with brilliant creativity. He is known for the best-selling poems he created for kids as well as the popular songs he wrote, such as Johnny Cash‘s “A Boy Named Sue.” However, he didn’t have to use much imagination for the tale as it actually happened to him, drawing upon his disastrous endeavor to revive a failed relationship. The songwriter revealed that he just “changed the last name, not to protect the innocent, but because it didn’t fit” in the song.

Indeed, “Sylvia’s Mother” was a heartbreaking story of a rejected lover, but it was incredibly soul-stirring – thanks to Dennis Locorriere’s compassionate performance as he sang lead on the track.

Tune in and play the video below to listen to “Sylvia’s Mother” by Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show.


Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show

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