Saturday, April 11, 2020
100 Greatest Albums: John Prine Live
Well, I was going to do this album anyway. It's not like he had to go ahead and die!
But so it is. And he did.
No one ever said the world isn't stupid.
That's the way that the world goes 'round, you're up one day and the next you're down. It's a half an inch of water and you think you're gonna drown. That's the way that the world goes 'round.
I guess it's a matter of interpretation then, but sure, maybe sometimes the world isn't stupid. We can all take that one up with god if we've got enough gumption for it when the time comes.
Of course, the time is always now.
My friend Grape gave me a tape of this album. It's a live album. John Prine Live it's called. Grape sure did give me a lot of albums in these 100 Greatest Albums I've been putting together. I wonder how he's doing, still locked down in California, just a few miles from tangerines they sell for nine dollars a pound out here.
This album kind of has everything you want in John Prine. Well, except it doesn't have his late masterpiece, one of the great mysterious wonders of songwriting, Lake Marie. I guess he hadn't written it yet. But it's full of John Prine weaving slow cozy stories into relaxed, flawless versions of a healthy scattering of his light, dark, perfect songs. Light songs that are all killers. Sketches. Short stories. Pleas, wonders.
Two songs then to make my case.
As engaging as the story here is, it's in the telling. It is an act of pure magic how much feeling this absolute trifle carries in it. I'm not sure anyone writing anywhere could do so much with so little.
And then there's this. No secrets here. No jokes. And a payoff that would seem almost treacly if it didn't hit about as hard as anything could- a deft line of American tragedy. It's as slim as that first song, but straight up. As straight up as any song you'll hear.
Somehow you could take ten brief songs of John Prine and have yourself enough quotes for every situation- a bit of our own Shakespeare on a porch somewhere, I suppose.
Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios.....
Rest in peace.