John Prine performs and talks about his 2017 songbook, “Beyond Words,” during this intimate interview at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
For “Beyond Words,” Prine collected of some of his favorite songs, stories, and photographs, and during this book talk around its release, he delves deeper into details, and performs some songs (“All the Best” and “The Sins of Memphisto” among them).
During the interview, John Prine touches on: “Paradise,” written about his parents’ Kentucky hometown; “Fish and Whistle,” which taps into a true story from his first job at Skip’s Frozen Custard; and “Storm Windows,” inspired by Prine’s bedroom’s proximity to a four-lane highway in his Maywood, Illinois, home.
Prine also recalls his budding-songwriter days, working full-time as a mailman and writing songs in his head as he delivered mail. He finds humor and poetry in some of his early reviews, including a 1972 headline that described him as “Entertaining As a Dog Bite,” fitting for a postal worker.
Prine acknowledges his penchant for tempering seriousness with humor, saying, “To me, there’s not many things that don’t have some side of humor to them, even the worst things.” He highlights “Jesus the Missing Years,” and talks about being open-minded with point of view, as with “Angel of Montgomery,” which begins, “I am an old woman, named after my mother.”
In discussing his decision to start his own label, Oh Boy Records, Prine remembers turning down the chance to sign with Capitol Records. Prine also recounts how his friend Steve Goodman brought Kris Kristofferson, who he praises for his integrity and sincerity, to first hear Prine play.
Prine reflects on writing “Unwed Fathers,” recorded by Tammy Wynette, with Country Music Hall of Fame member Bobby Braddock. He remembers having that song and Don Williams’s “Love is on a Roll,” which he co-wrote with Roger Cook, play back to back on WSM and thinking to himself, “Damn, I’ve arrived!”
Presented in support of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum exhibition “American Currents: The Music of 2016” (March 17, 2017, through March 2018).
Find out more about our public programming: https://countrymusichalloffame.org/plan-your-visit/exhibits-activities/public-programs/
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