John Prine album cover

John Prine, John Prine

Atlantic, 1971, folk

B, 1966: An intimate songwriter documenting American life, and an album full of songs you want to really understand. Musically simple, which seems to allow the lyrics to really shine. So many great songs here, like “Hello in There”, “Sam Stone”, and “Paradise” (capturing a theme that continues to play out in coal country), and “Quiet Man”. But “Angel from Montgomery” is just a classic and has to be the pick.

C, 2002: Great great album. Loved it. So good. Epitome of simple yet meaningful (that’s not saying, but you get the gist). Favorite song is “Angel from Montgomery.” I dig this album a lot and will def be listening again.

H, 1951: It’s amazing that this album was released the same year as # 454. Alice Cooper was all about sound and attitude, while this album was all about intelligent observation and wry analysis. Despite the folksy production, Prine has said about the shoot for the album cover that it was the first time in his life that he had been seated on a bale of hay. Prine learned to play guitar at Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music, an institution still in operation, and one that I have happily visited at least a couple of times to see concerts held there. When he wrote the material for this album, he was working as a mailman in Chicago. It’s an astonishingly wide-ranging and intelligent collection of songs, many of them still being played today by a whole range of different artists. “Angel from Montgomery” in particular was recorded by Bonnie Raitt in 1974, and became a signature song for her. Listening to the two recordings today, Prine’s version sounds like the demo tape, while Raitt’s recording sounds like the perfect expression of the song. “There’s flies in the kitchen / I can hear them buzzing.” Oh yes. Prine’s had a long and storied career as a songwriter and performer, and is still touring today.

Published 16 Nov 2019

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