John Prine: Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

By on April 8, 2020

The tributes paid to John Prine have been beautiful, eloquent and lushly filled with words of admiration. So much so that I hesitated to add mine to the list. That didn’t feel right though, so here I am.

I’ve always been a sucker for words. When reading, there are times when a phrase or a sentence just makes my brain light up, and I will stop and re-read it several times. I’ve been known to read said phrase or sentence to anyone within earshot. For the most part, that person’s brain does not light up as brightly as mine. Their loss I always think. John Steinbeck and Stephen King are two that come to mind where any given sentence will make me stop, read again, smile and say wow.

Growing up with gifted songwriters like Paul Simon, J.D. Souther, and Bob Dylan, having a melody to complement their exquisite words put me on a path of joy that can never be measured. John Prine was a master of the phrase as well as finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. A note in a frying pan, flies in the kitchen, growing old…all found purpose in his lyrics.

I’m not alone in saying the first time I became aware of John Prine was through Bonnie Raitt’s poignant interpretation of “Angel From Montgomery.” Off her 1974 Streetlights album, it was haunting, it was sorrowful and it was extraordinary in its ordinariness.

I am an old woman named after my mother
My old man is another child that’s grown old
If dreams were lightning, thunder was desire
This old house would have burnt down a long time ago

Bruce Springsteen did a live show on Sirius radio today. He played songs to get us through this global nightmare. Of course he spoke of John Prine and one of his sentences stopped me because it was an almost perfect description of John’s writing.

He wrote music of towering compassion, with an almost unheard of precision and creativity when it came to observing the fine details of ordinary lives.

He did just that. He was a treasure that comes along rarely in a lifetime, we were lucky to have had him at all.

Easy Journey kind sir.

Leaves were falling..Just like embers
In colors red and gold they set us on fire
Burning just like a moonbeam…in our eyes

Post by Kath Galasso @KatsTheory