Even at that young age, Prine could channel humor and heartbreak just like his heroes Hank Williams and Roger Miller. Prine wrote for working people, sad people, old people, and lost people.
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His style, inspired by John Steinbeck, was deceptively simple. Many emulated it, but only he could do it. But his interview with Paul Zollo for Bluerailroad is a master class in songwriting. Like what color the ashtray is.
How far away the doorway was. She performed it movingly earlier this year at the Grammys, when Prine received a Lifetime Achievement Award.
For starters: blow up your TV, throw away your paper, go to the country, build you a home. Prine wrote this heartbreaking tale of a heroin-addicted veteran for his first album, not long after he returned home from serving in the Army himself.
Leave it to Prine to write a deeply unconventional Christmas song and a deeply unconventional love song, all at once. But I used all the imagery as if it were an actual prison.
The tune is a sweet, sentimental waltz; the lyrics manage to be both funny and wildly evocative. John had been with him earlier that day.
Just like he did with every trauma in his life, John wrote about it. On this upbeat stomper off Bruised Orangehis excellent, undersung third album, Prine combines snapshots from various different chapters of his life — from his first job working at a local drive-in to his army days — and strings them together with a chorus about the importance of forgiveness. The song is full of hilarious observations pulled straight from real life.
Not a literary masterpiece, just a compact, easygoing tune that seems to effortlessly sum up the life cycle of a relationship from first kiss to last goodbye with a perfect mix of matter-of-fact honesty and genuine wonder at the cheesy depth of the ritual. Prine wrote this tale of the double standards facing a single pregnant mother with legendary Nashville songwriter Bobby Braddock in the early eighties.
We kind of combined them and went right into it. Written in the aftermath of a bad relationship, this ballad is John Prine at his most romantically destitute. Leave it to John Prine to turn an of his divorce from second wife Rachel Peer into one of his most big-hearted moments, the tale of a broken heart healing itself through compassion.
So what was Jesus up to during that time? He traveled to France and Spain, he got into some trouble with the cops, he grew his hair out, saw Rebel Without a Causeand invented Santa Claus. Sung with Iris Dement, this he-said, she-said duet is a portrait of a long-term relationship as only Prine could write it: warm, richly detailed, and funny as hell. As a songwriter who radiated kindness, generosity and humanity, Prine brings a unique sense of dispirited unbelief to this brokenhearted yet mordantly funny takedown of Republican ideology in the Bush years, released at the height of the Iraq War.
One of the standouts is this gorgeous ballad, written with Keith Sykes, where Prine looks back on the good times of a relationship while hinting that darkness is around the corner.
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The lyrics address a lover about to leave him alone at home for the week. Prine opens the song with the image of swimsuits drying on a clothesline, before spinning the idea of a summer coming to a close into a metaphor for fast-approaching mortality. Prine pledges to open up a nightclub called the Tree of Forgiveness in the afterlife.
Here are 25 of his best. Load. View Complete List.
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