This Album Changed My Life: Shel Silverstein - A Light In The Attic (1981)

Singer-songwriter Rhob Cunningham on an album of musical poems

As a wee nipper, I first learned of the influence a record can hold with this collection of musical poems, as narrated by the jangled wordsmithery of Shel Silverstein.

It was on a scratchy 12-inch – a first foray into the delicate world of needle on grooves. With brevity akin to any Buddy Holly classic and speckled with the twinkling winks familiar to both Spike Milligan and Billy Connolly lovers alike, Shel proffers tales of Aunt-eaters, overpopulated bathtubs, blue traffic lights and how to get what you want. To the busy ear, it is a tirade of nonsense, yet, there is infinite magic to be found.

Every poem is a spilled bag of scrabble tiles. You can take them at face value or search for extras hidden behind your ear. A Light In The Attic taught me that every word can be new. There are no inherently bad words, it's just how you use them.

I don’t listen to it so often nowadays, I just cherish the world it opened up for me. I have gone back and read the print version out loud from time to time. You should save it for a weekend afternoon near tiny humans: it opens ears and widens eyes.


Rhob Cunningham's new album, Step Outside, is out now. More info at: