Another busy one today but also a very sad one, one of my heroes died today.
I first heard John Prine on John Peel around 1971 or 1972 when, as a student, I had a lot of time for listening to music. The tracks were from his first album and memorable right from the start for a wannabe hippy. Sam Stone: “There’s a hole in Daddy’s arm where all the money goes”, “Sam Stone was alone when he popped his last balloon”, Your Flag Decal Won’t get you into Heaven any More: “while digesting Reader’s Digest in the back of a dirty book store, a plastic flag with gum on the back fell onto the floor”, Hello in There: “We lost Davy in the Korean War, I still don’t know what for, don’t matter anymore, old trees just grow stronger, old rivers grow wilder every day, old people just get lonesome waiting for someone to say “Hello in There, Hello””.
Of course, looking back at this video in particular it’s hard not to see the comparison with the young Bob Dylan (who was a fan and anonymously played harmonica on one of Prine’s gigs).
I never really made that connection at the time, for me John Prine was a country singer with a real feel for injustice and the forgotten in society. Never thought I’d be a fan of country music I have to say.
I only realised later on that Paradise and Muhlenberg country was about the area where he grew up and the Daddy in the song was his own father.
I leave you with what John Prine described as his favourite song, real country but unrequited love or a relationship turning sour is something most of us can relate to. “A question ain’t really a question if you know the answer too”.