Among the English language's premier phrase-turners with music relevant to any age, the late great John Prinewas part of the Atlantic Records family for four albums - John Prine (1971), Diamonds in the Rough (1972), Sweet Revenge (1973) and Common Sense (1975) - before he jumped over to Asylum for another three records and eventually his own label Oh Boy.
Fittingly for a former mailman, Prine delivered songs that are both literate and personal. The skilled and compassionate storyteller enjoyed widespread critical acclaim in the wake of his groundbreaking eponymous debut and continued to write and perform songs that became central to our American musical heritage for nearly five decades. Classics like, "Angel from Montgomery,""Sam Stone," "Paradise," "Hello in There" and "Donald And Lydia," all found on his staggering first offering, speak to the everyday experience of ordinary people with a simple honesty, and an extraordinary ability to get right through to the heart of the listener.
"I bought John Prine's first album on LP when it was released," said Poet Laureate Ted Kooser. "I played it as soon as I got home and noticed at once that here was a truly original writer, unequaled, and a genuine poet of the American people. He's taken ordinary people and made monuments of them, treating them with great respect and love." Roger Waters proclaimed that Prine, "lives on that plane with Neil Young and Lennon" while Bob Dylan ponders songs like "Sam Stone" and "Donald and Lydia" and says, "nobody like Prine could write like that." Indeed, Prine's songs are singular and atypical enough to remove themselves from any notion of competition. They stand alone, yet they pal around with the masses.
When Prine was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2019, Bonnie Raitt said it best: "John can fit so much meaning and insight into such deceptively simple lines and weave a heart-wrenching moment of hilarity, empathy or hard fought truth into such beautiful stories and characters, then wrap them all up in melodies as comfortable as slipping into your favorite pair of jeans."