Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and John Prine on the ‘Bobby Bare and Friends’ TV show back in 1985.
Bobby Bare: Considering you’ve seen everywhere in this vast wide country…where is favorite place? Ramblin’ Jack Elliott: …right there in the front seat of my motor home…movin’.
The whole show is fantastic, and the interviews mention snippets about Bob Dylan several times. John Prine tells about how he ended up buying his first Dylan record.
There is also a nice anecdote from Jack remembering a time when he and Bob Dylan were shown an ‘after hours’ bar in Greenwich Village and includes the tell-tale line: “And some stranger, perfect stranger, who probably didn’t know who Bob was, and so Bob was very comfortable with him…”.
Another highlight is the part where Bobby Bare plays Kris Kristofferson’s song about Elliott to him. Priceless!
“Prine’s stuff is pure Proustian existentialism. Midwestern mindtrips to the nth degree. And he writes beautiful songs. I remember when Kris Kristofferson first brought him on the scene. All that stuff about “Sam Stone” the soldier junky daddy and “Donald and Lydia,” where people make love from ten miles away. Nobody but Prine could write like that. If I had to pick one song of his, it might be “Lake Marie.” I don’t remember what album that’s on.”
– Bob Dylan (Interview with Bill Flanagan 2009)
Lake Marie is from the album, Lost Dogs and Mixed Blessings, the 12th studio album by John Prine, released in 1995. The song was inspired in part by Prine’s crumbling marriage and a series of grisly murders the singer remembered the Chicago news media having a field day with when he was a kid. It is one of my favourite songs, not just by John Prine, but by any artist.
John Prine: “It’s an actual place along the Illinois-Wisconsin border. There’s an entire chain of lakes along there, small lakes, and I remember as a teenager growing up in Chicago, a lot of the teenagers would go to these lakes and in the summer time kind of get away from the city. Lake Marie was kind of just one that stuck out in my mind. About ’59, ’60, ’61, I grew up in Maywood – it’s a western suburb of Chicago, and we started hearing about murders that weren’t related to the mob. You know, John Wayne Gacy was like, about two towns away from me and you just hear about it. The suburbs were kind of thought to be a pretty safe place at the time, and then some of these unexplained murders would show up every once in a while, where they’d find people in the woods somewhere. I just kind of took any one of them, not one in particular, and put it as if it was in a TV newscast. It was a sharp left turn to take in a song, but when I got done with it, I kind of felt like it’s what the song needed right then.”
This is a great concert and a rare treat as there are very few Prine concerts on the web. The only problem is that it is too short! John Prine is the type of singer that makes you listen to his lyrics. He infuses humour in his, sad but entertaining lyrics. Each time you hear him, you hear something different. Bob Dylan had this mix of humour and seriousness on his first album and Townes Van Zandt and Warren Zevon made a real art out of it. John Prine fits fine in their company.
The crowning moments for me are the duets with singer Iris Dement, who with great pride joins him in some “questionable lyrics” as he puts it. And the wonderful song , Lake Marie, I never get tired of that song. Prine tells the story wonderfully on this concert.
“Sessions at West 54th gave Prine a chance to work his charm on a television audience (and in 2002, a VHS and DVD audience). The appearance coincided with the successful release of In Spite of Ourselves, and a number of that album’s songs appear on this set. Prine begins his performance by reaching back to the very beginning of his career for “Blow Up Your T.V.” and “Six O’Clock News.” He’s accompanied by guitarist Jason Wilber and bassist David Jacques, players who provide a simple and warm setting for these songs. Iris Dement joins Prine in the middle of the session for a number of duets, including fine versions of “In Spite of Ourselves” and “Let’s Invite Them Over Again.” Other classics, including “Sam Stone” and “Hello in There,” fill out the disc. Watching Live from Sessions at West 54th is a lot like getting a good seat to a Prine show in a small venue.”
– Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr. (allmusic)
“Jesus was a good guy, he didn’t need this shit.”
― John Prine
“And you may see me tonight with an illegal smile. It don’t cost very much, but it lasts a long while. Won’t you please tell the man I didn’t kill anyone.
No, I’m just tryin’ to have me some fun.”
― John Prine
John Prine (born October 10, 1946, in Maywood, Illinois) is an American country/folk singer-songwriter. He has been active as a recording artist and live performer since the early 1970s.
Sabu Visits The Twin Towns Alone (1978) w/intro:
In 2003, he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award for songwriting by the UK’s BBC Radio 2 and that same year was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. The following year saw his song “Sam Stone” covered by Laura Cantrell for the Future Soundtrack for America compilation.
Prine has taken his place as one of the most influential songwriters of his generation. In 2009, Bob Dylan told the Huffington Post that Prine was one of his favourite writers, stating “Prine’s stuff is pure Proustian existentialism. Midwestern mindtrips to the nth degree. And he writes beautiful songs. I remember when Kris Kristofferson first brought him on the scene. All that stuff about “Sam Stone,” the soldier junkie daddy, and “Donald and Lydia,” where people make love from ten miles away. Nobody but Prine could write like that.”
In Johnny Cash‘s autobiography Cash, he admitted “I don’t listen to music much at the farm, unless I’m going into songwriting mode and looking for inspiration. Then I’ll put on something by the writers I’ve admired and used for years (Rodney Crowell, John Prine, Guy Clark, and the late Steve Goodman are my Big Four)…”
When asked by Word Magazine in 2008 if he heard Pink Floyd‘s influence in newer British bands like Radiohead, Roger Waters replied “I don’t really listen to Radiohead. I listened to the albums and they just didn’t move me in the way, say, John Prine does. His is just extra-ordinarily eloquent music—and he lives on that plane with Neil Young and Lennon.”
Prine received the Artist of the Year award at the Americana Music Awards on September 9, 2005. The award was accepted in his name by awards host and long-time friend Billy Bob Thornton.
Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness (2010):
“Have you ever noticed
When you’re feeling really good
There’s always a pigeon
That’ll come shit on your hood
Or you’re feeling your freedom
And the world’s off your back
Some cowboy from Texas
Starts his own war in Iraq.”
Album of the day – John Prine (1971):
From allmusic.com – William Ruhlmann:
A revelation upon its release, this album is now a collection of standards: “Illegal Smile,” “Hello in There,” “Sam Stone,” “Donald and Lydia,” and, of course, “Angel from Montgomery.” Prine’s music, a mixture of folk, rock, and country, is deceptively simple, like his pointed lyrics, and his easy vocal style adds a humorous edge that makes otherwise funny jokes downright hilarious.