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John Prine

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Editors’ Notes

Sounding like the oldest 24-year-old in history, John Prine exploded on the singer/songwriter scene with this 1971 country-folk debut, a near-perfect 13-song collection bursting with wisdom, insight, humor, and sorrow. Tastefully backed by many of Nashville's finest musicians, Prine delivers poignant character studies, quirky narratives, shrewd social commentary, and perceptive self-examinations in his craggy vocal style—all without a hint of affectation. Tracks like "Sam Stone," "Illegal Smile," "Hello in There," and "Angel from Montgomery" are widely considered folk landmarks, but every song here is a gem. "Blow up your TV, throw away your paper," he gleefully sings on "Spanish Pipedream," "go to the country, build you a home." "Donald and Lydia" is a touching (if not exactly heartwarming) love story, while "Six O'Clock News" is a devastating family portrait. The immediate post-Woodstock era was the heyday of the singer/songwriter, and Prine's debut may very well be its most enduring contribution.

Customer Reviews

The human touch

John Prine's first album was and is a great one. Its biggest strength is its lyrics, and the biggest strength of its lyrics are their love and acceptance of common humanity, with all its weakness. His gruff voice, for all its limitations, captures the difficulties and ironies of the characters he sings about. The music has a country/folk simplicity and clarity that lets the lyrics shine. As to the humanity: the brief escape into the lesser drugs in "Illegal Smile", the despair of deep addiction of "Sam Stone", the loneliness of "Hello in There", the make the best of it of "Pretty Good', and the reflection of "Angel from Montgomery" all speak deeply to me. Not all the others are as strong as the above, but none of them are filler.

A Cornerstone

John Prine falls somewhere between Bob Dylan and Tom Waits, a singer/songwriter who has a true voice (if not a pretty one), who, through his songs, displays humor, sadness, beauty, and scathing observation at the human condition. A must-have.

The Best First Album. Bar None

After thirty nine years of listening to this album, I don't know of any other artist who has made such a special first impression. My grown children still prefer to hear the line "she read romance magazines" over and over again, due to the scratch in the original album. We all went to see him perform a few years ago and at that point during "Donald & Lydia" we all looked at each other.

Thanks John.


Born: October 10, 1946 in Maywood, IL

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

An acclaimed singer/songwriter whose literate work flirted with everything from acoustic folk to rockabilly to straight-ahead country, John Prine was born October 10, 1946, in Maywood, IL. Raised by parents firmly rooted in their rural Kentucky background, at age 14 Prine began learning to play the guitar from his older brother while taking inspiration from his grandfather, who had played with Merle Travis. After a two-year tenure in...
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John Prine, John Prine
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Customer Ratings