It’s amazing to think that one of the greatest songwriters in modern folk music spent his early years as a mailman. But that was what John Prine did before his music career took off. While he was delivering mail in Chicago in the late 60s…..
…. he began to sing at open mic evenings at the Fifth Peg on Armitage Avenue in Chicago. Prine was initially a spectator, reluctant to perform, but eventually did so in response to a “You think you can do better?” comment made to him by another performer. Chicago Sun-Times movie critic Roger Ebert heard him there and wrote the first review Prine ever received, calling him a great songwriter. He became a central figure in the Chicago folk revival, which also included such singer-songwriters as Steve Goodman, Bonnie Koloc, Jim Post and Fred Holstein. Joined by such established musicians as Jethro Burns and Bob Gibson, Prine performed frequently at a variety of clubs—including the Earl of Old Town, the Quiet Knight, Somebody Else’s Troubles, The 5th Peg, and the Bulls. Full Biography
Folk songs describe human experiences. These songs can be songs of love found and lost, work songs, drinking songs and funny songs. For me, there is no songwriter who writes better about human experience than John Prine….. An example is the opening verses and chorus of “Donald & Lydia” from his self-titled début album:
Small town, bright lights, Saturday night,
Pinballs and pool halls flashing their lights.
Making change behind the counter in a penny arcade
Sat the fat girl daughter of Virginia and Ray
Lydia hid her thoughts like a cat
Behind her small eyes sunk deep in her fat.
She read romance magazines up in her room
And felt just like Sunday on Saturday afternoon.
But dreaming just comes natural
Like the first breath from a baby,
Like sunshine feeding daisies,
Like the love hidden deep in your heart.
The list of John Prine lyrics that make you happy, sad, or one’s that really make you think, and feel for people, goes on and on. But there may not be a more moving song, than another song from his first album, and that’s “Hello in There”. Whenever I went to see my mother in the home, where she spent her last years, after looking around at all the lonely people, this song always popped into my head!!
Here is a video of the song. I think this is one of the best videos I’ve ever seen on YouTube. The video was put together by YouTube user Adamfulgene. Boy, am I jealous!.You can check out her other videos at Eileen’s Videos (Adamfulgence) !!