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Playlist: Five From John Prine

John_Prine_by_Ron_Baker

John Prine’s official website is here. Fan sites usually are more comprehensive, since they are labors of love and contributed to by many people. The Prine Shrine is no different.

It’s obsessive and intersting. The set lists, for instance, go back to 1970. The first entry is an appearance on Stud’s Terkel’s radio show. It’s interesting that three of the songs he played that early in his career (“Hello in There,” “Sam Stone” and “Donald and Lydia”) are among his best known. His biggest hit – “Angel From Montgomery” – was on his debut album, which was released the next year, according to Wikipedia.

If the company somebody keeps says a lot, Prine is one of the greats. Here is how the bio at the site begins:

Forty-five years into a remarkable career that has drawn effusive praise from Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson, Bonnie Raitt, Roger Waters, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, and others who would know, Prine is a smiling, shuffling force for good. He is a Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member whose classic debut album, simply titled John Prine, is recognized as part of the Recording Academy’s Grammy Hall of Fame.

Prine’s songs have been recorded by Johnny Cash, Tom T. Hall, the Everly Brothers, Carly Simon, Bette Midler, Norah Jones, George Strait, Miranda Lambert, and many others. But his genius isn’t found in his resume, it’s found in the brilliance of lyrics from his large catalog of songs.

In a previous post, The Daily Music Break featured Prine and Iris DeMent performing “In Spite of Ourselves” and Bonnie Raitt and Kris Kristofferson singing “Angel From Montgomery” at Live Aid in 1986. Nothing much goes right during that performance, but it looks like they had fun.

Sorry about the volume change between the first song and the rest of the playlist below.

 


Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.