If you’ve not heard of John Prine you must be:
- under 30
- not a recent attendee of Bonaroo
- not from around here
I realized that a lot of people don’t remember/know him when I started raving about his new album, In Person & On Stage, which came out May 25th. Well, if that’s the case, don’t fret. This album is the one for you!!! Broken Hearts and Dirty Windows is not just a tribute album, it’s an introduction to what Prine does best — and that is write songs. I grew up singing along to “Angel From Montgomery” and “Paradise.” It seemed that I heard these songs, and others by him, from so many sources; on the radio, on TV, from my father’s record player and later on, in various music collections of roomates and lovers. John Prine has just simply been a part of my life ever since I can remember. Indeed, his debut album in 1971 hit me just about the time I was old enough to remember music clearly. And his songs are certainly memorable. Their lyrics tell stories, their melodies sneak into your ears and snuggle up in your head, comfortably. I know this is, to many folk, Country music. But when I hear it, it’s simply John Prine.
The funny part is, growing up in Pennsylvania, I never realized that he was from Illinois! I never learned that he got his start singing folk music right here in Chicago. It wasn’t until I moved here, myself, at 19 that I began hearing about him again and about all the clubs he and other “new” folk artists played in back “in the day.” So, it’s coming full circle, in a way, for me now, to bring you news of this tribute album. And like my previous post on railcars, this one is also a re-interpretation for you indie kids out there. John Prine wrote so many beautiful, lasting, timeless songs. And artists today owe him a debt that they are quite aware of. They’ve repaid it a teensy bit by doing this album and many of these songs are truly a tribute to the man. I’m honestly so grateful to have received a copy of this from Big Hassle Media. And I’m truly recommending it to you, as something I would buy for myself and for any music lover. John Prine is a gift to us, and he’s given us such a treasure; these songs are only a small glimpse of that. Each group or artist that adds to this album brings their particular talent to the table, their signatures are there and they only add to this man’s work. No one is included for “star power,” or as a favor to anyone. I’ve thought this over and the songs are just matched to each performer so well.
My Morning Jacket sings “All The Best” and makes it the cheery song it really is, with just that bit of bittersweet that lies beneath, peeking out. I’ll be honest, I feared “Angel from Montgomery” wouldn’t live up to the Bonnie Raitt treatment I loved so much. I’m happy to report that Old Crow Medicine Show gave me much relief. The instrumentation is as good as the vocals, and I’ve not stressed enough in this review how important that is to these songs. “Daddy’s Little Pumpkin” is truly given a Drive-By-Truckers lick, and that’s just as it should be for that song fits so perfectly to their sound. Now are you convinced of John Prine’s genius and scope? You should be. I can’t tell you about every song, but I must tell you about one more. It’s one I remember trying to learn the words to, dancing drunkenly to, laughing wildly to. And Those Darlin’s certainly do justice to “Let’s Talk Dirty in Hawaiian” oh yes they do! xoxo
Go to bandcamp.com, to download “She Is My Everything” from In Person & On Stage
Hear John Prine’s performance at Bonaroo here, on NPR’s site
Hear Broken Hearts and Dirty Windows here, on NPR’s site, either in it’s entirety or track by track (until the release date, tomorrow, 06/22) ….. buy it!
1. Justin Vernon of Bon Iver – “Bruised Orange (Chain Of Sorrow)”
2. Conor Oberst And The Mystic Valley Band – “Wedding Day In Funeralville”
3. My Morning Jacket – “All The Best”
4. Josh Ritter – “Mexican Home”
5. Lambchop – “Six O’Clock News”
6. Justin Townes Earle – “Far From Me”
7. The Avett Brothers – “Spanish Pipedream”
8. Old Crow Medicine Show – “Angel From Montgomery”
9. Sara Watkins – “The Late John Garfield Blues”
10. Drive-By Truckers – “Daddy’s Little Pumpkin”
11. Deer Tick featuring Liz Isenberg – “Unwed Fathers”
12. Those Darlins – “Let’s Talk Dirty In Hawaiian”