Wednesday, March 30, 2005

John Prine

I just got off the phone with singer/songwriter John Prine. This is one of the fringe benefits of writing for a music magazine. Occasionally you get to interview people who have been heroes to you for decades. Today was one of those days.

Well, "heroes" is probably too strong. But I've loved John Prine's music since I was a teenager. He was one of the numerous "new Dylans" when he first arrived, a raspy-voiced singer/songwriter with an acoustic guitar and penchant for writing great lyrics. Thirty-five years down the line, he's still doing the same thing. He's not flowery or overly wordy. In fact, he writes with great economy, and he says more with less than almost any other songwriter going. I love his songs. He's a very funny guy who can write songs that will break your heart.

So I just talked to John, who was gracious and kind. I'm always amazed when "professional" musicians turn out to be regular Joes who are happy to give you the time of day. And he was. He's a recovering alcoholic/addict, a cancer survivor, the proud father (at age 58!) of two sons, aged 9 and 10, and a brand new Christian. I got to pray with him at the end of our conversation, and I think he was as surprised and moved by that as I was.

I don't always love my job. But I always love my "hobby," and I'm so thankful for the opportunity to do what I do.

Sam Stone came home
To his wife and family
After serving in the conflict overseas
And the time that he served
Had shattered all his nerves
And left a little shrapnel in his knee

But the morphine eased the pain
And the grass grew round his brain
And gave him all the confidence he lacked
With a Purple Heart and a monkey on his back

There's a hole in daddy's arm where all the money goes
Jesus Christ died for nothin' I suppose
Little pitchers have big ears
Don't stop to count the years
Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios

Sam Stone's welcome home
Didn't last too long
He went to work when he'd spent his last dime
And Sammy took to stealing
When he got that empty feeling
For a hundred dollar habit without overtime

And the gold rolled through his veins
Like a thousand railroad trains
And eased his mind in the hours that he chose
While the kids ran around wearin' other peoples' clothes

There's a hole in daddy's arm where all the money goes
Jesus Christ died for nothin' I suppose
Little pitchers have big ears
Don't stop to count the years
Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios

Sam Stone was alone
When he popped his last balloon
Climbing walls while sitting in a chair
Well, he played his last request
While the room smelled just like death
With an overdose hovering in the air

But life had lost its fun
And there was nothing to be done
But trade his house that he bought on the G. I. Bill
For a flag draped casket on a local heroes' hill

There's a hole in daddy's arm where all the money goes
Jesus Christ died for nothin' I suppose
Little pitchers have big ears
Don't stop to count the years
Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios
-- John Prine "Sam Stone"

3 comments:

teddy dellesky said...

john prine is someone who i regretfully haven't really gotten into. i always enjoy hearing him on WCBE and know him to be a great songwritier adn guitarist. have a great trip up to the great lakes state. we'll be praying for you.

yomama said...

what a great story andy!

will pray for your weekend.

maureen

Megan Crawford said...

you lucky dog.
john prine...
you lucky dog.

Please NEVER let word get out if you get to interview Dylan. Please.