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Check It Out: John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery” Performed by Bonnie Raitt

bonnie raitt
Bonnie Raitt (Photo: Mtphrames)

Bonnie Raitt is closely identified with the great John Prine song “Angel from Montgomery.” There are quite a few versions of it on YouTube. The one above is quite old. The audio is not great, but the delivery is flawless. Indeed, Raitt always does an awesome job on the song. Here is another terrific version. The problem is that the very end is cut off, which is jarring after such an intense delivery.

The Wikipedia entry from the song is fascinating. Prine said that a friend suggested writing another song a middle aged woman who felt older than she was. The image in Prine’s mind was a middle aged woman standing at a sink doing dishes and just wishing to be taken away from her drab existence. He said that the reference to Montgomery probably emerged from the fact that he is a Hank Williams fan. Williams had a long association with the city.

The entry also says that John Denver was the first well known singer to cover the song and offers a quote from Rait:

“I think ‘Angel from Montgomery’ probably has meant more to my fans and my body of work than any other song, and it will historically be considered one of the most important ones I’ve ever recorded. It’s just such a tender way of expressing that sentiment of longing – like ‘Hello In There’ – without being maudlin or obvious. It has all the different shadings of love and regret and longing. It’s a perfect expression from [a] wonderful genius.”

“Tree of Forgiveness,” Prine’s most recent album, is available at Amazon and iTunes.

Raitt covered “Angel from Montgomery” on “Streetlights,” which was released in 1974. Here it is at Amazon and iTunes (remastered).


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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.


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


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.