There have been few songwriters or poets as sly, as clever, as subversive as the late Shel Silverstein, and all of those traits are on full display in the devastatingly cruel “Queen of the Silver Dollar.” Originally recorded by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show for their second album, the quavering, emotion-laden vocals start off borderline-distraught, but quickly become celebratory. Initially, the “Queen” comes across as a fading “It Girl,” trying to hang on to past glories in a smoky bar, fawned over by drunk patrons. But as the song progresses, her tattered, hopeless persona pierces the illusion of royalty, and it becomes clear the Queen is a prostitute, well-worn and reduced to eking out a living amongst the dregs of society. And then Silverstein delivers the coup de grâce: The singer isn’t some impartial bystander, observing the sad state of affairs, but rather the Queen’s pimp, bragging about finding her as an innocent country girl, corrupting and deceiving her to bring the girl to this low place. The buoyancy in his voice isn’t one of admiration or unrequited love, but rather pride of ownership. The Queen isn’t human, but merely an asset, and he’s not in the bar to admire her, but to ensure his own profit margins. In its own way, the friendly exuberance of the song mirrors that of so many pimps, who wear a friendly and caring veneer around women that only masks the dangerous predator lurking beneath. In this way, “Queen of the Silver Dollar” is perhaps the most true-to-life of any song on this list.
Chicken Ranch Central