John Prine was an American singer-songwriter known for his ability to tell stories through his music. Born in 1946 in Illinois, Prine began his music career in the late 1960s, performing at open mic nights and clubs in Chicago. He quickly gained a reputation as a talented songwriter and performer, and his debut album, “John Prine,” was released in 1971 to critical acclaim.
Prine’s music is characterized by his wit, humor, and insight into the human condition. His lyrics often address themes of love, loss, and the struggles of everyday life, and his songs have been covered by a wide range of artists in a variety of genres. Some of Prine’s most beloved songs include “Angel from Montgomery,” “Hello in There,” and “Paradise.”
Tragically, Prine passed away in 2020 due to complications from COVID-19, but his legacy as a songwriter and performer continues to be celebrated by fans around the world. His music has been cited as a major influence by countless artists, and his ability to capture the essence of the human experience in his songs remains unmatched. John Prine will be remembered as one of the greatest American songwriters of all time.
1. “You Never Even Called Me By My Name”
“You Never Even Called Me By My Name” is a classic track by John Prine, released in 1975. The song features a twangy, country sound and Prine’s trademark wit and humor in the lyrics. The song tells the story of a man who is trying to get over a breakup, but is frustrated that his former lover never even bothered to remember his name. “You Never Even Called Me By My Name” is a beloved classic in the world of country music, and it continues to be a favorite of fans who appreciate Prine’s ability to capture the complexities of love and relationships through his music.
2. “Illegal Smile”
“Illegal Smile” is a song by American singer-songwriter John Prine, featured on his eponymous debut album released in 1971. The song is a humorous take on the idea of a “smile” being illegal and the ways people try to find happiness in life. The lyrics describe various scenarios where people turn to illegal activities to cope with their problems, such as a bartender stealing from his employer or a judge taking bribes. Prine’s simple guitar playing and unique vocal style provide a perfect accompaniment to the witty and satirical lyrics, making it a fan favorite and a staple of his live performances.
3. “Mental Cruelty”
“Mental Cruelty” is a poignant track by John Prine, released in 1978. The song features a slow, melancholy melody and Prine’s signature storytelling in the lyrics. The song speaks to the experience of emotional abuse in a relationship, and the pain and confusion that comes with it. “Mental Cruelty” showcases Prine’s ability to create music that is both heartfelt and honest, and it remains a fan favorite to this day. The track’s raw emotion and powerful message continue to resonate with listeners who have experienced similar struggles in their own lives.
4. “Angel From Montgomery”
“Angel From Montgomery” is a poignant song by American singer-songwriter John Prine, released in 1971. The song tells the story of a woman stuck in a loveless marriage and dreaming of a way out. The lyrics beautifully capture the pain and longing of someone feeling trapped and hopeless, yet still holding onto a flicker of hope. Prine’s simple and honest delivery, accompanied by acoustic guitar and harmonica, adds to the raw emotion of the song. The track has been covered by numerous artists, including Bonnie Raitt, whose rendition became a hit and is now considered a classic.
5. “Everything Is Cool”
“Everything Is Cool” is an upbeat and optimistic track by John Prine, released in 2005. The song features a catchy melody and Prine’s trademark humor in the lyrics. The song celebrates the simple pleasures of life and encourages listeners to find joy in the present moment, even in the midst of difficult times. “Everything Is Cool” showcases Prine’s ability to create music that is both lighthearted and profound, and it remains a fan favorite to this day. The track’s infectious energy and uplifting message continue to inspire listeners to appreciate the beauty and wonder of the world around them.
6. “In Spite of Ourselves”
“In Spite of Ourselves” is a humorous and heartwarming duet by John Prine and Iris DeMent. The song tells the story of a couple who may not be perfect, but are perfect for each other. The lyrics are playful and clever, with Prine and DeMent trading verses about the quirks and flaws of their characters. The melody is catchy and upbeat, with a classic country feel that perfectly matches the lighthearted tone of the lyrics. The song showcases Prine’s talent as a songwriter and his ability to capture the essence of a relationship in just a few short verses.
7. “Some Humans Ain’t Human”
“Some Humans Ain’t Human” is a powerful track by John Prine, released in 2005. The song features a simple, acoustic melody and Prine’s poignant observations about the human condition in the lyrics. The song speaks to the darker side of humanity, highlighting the hypocrisy, greed, and cruelty that can exist within individuals and society as a whole. “Some Humans Ain’t Human” showcases Prine’s ability to create music that is both thought-provoking and emotionally resonant, and it remains a fan favorite to this day. The track’s stark honesty and unflinching critique of human nature continue to inspire listeners to reflect on their own behavior and the world around them.
8. “Sam Stone”
“Sam Stone” is a poignant song by John Prine that tells the story of a Vietnam War veteran who returns home addicted to drugs, unable to connect with his family, and eventually dies of an overdose. The lyrics are raw and honest, touching on themes of addiction, isolation, and the impact of war on soldiers and their families. Prine’s gentle, yet powerful voice carries the weight of the song’s message, and the simple acoustic guitar and harmonica accompaniment add to the haunting quality of the melody. “Sam Stone” is a timeless classic that continues to resonate with listeners today.
9. “Lake Marie”
“Lake Marie” is a haunting track by John Prine, released in 1995. The song features a delicate acoustic melody and Prine’s vivid storytelling in the lyrics. The song tells the story of two couples, whose lives become intertwined at a lake in Wisconsin. The narrative is filled with themes of love, loss, and the fragility of human connections. “Lake Marie” showcases Prine’s ability to create music that is both introspective and deeply emotional, and it remains a fan favorite to this day. The track’s haunting beauty and intricate storytelling continue to captivate and inspire listeners.
10. “Summer’s End”
“Summer’s End” is a poignant and reflective song by American singer-songwriter John Prine. The track features gentle instrumentation and Prine’s soulful vocals, conveying a bittersweet nostalgia and sense of longing for the past. The lyrics explore themes of love, loss, and the fleeting nature of time, with a focus on the changing of the seasons and the passing of summer into autumn. Prine’s masterful storytelling and evocative imagery create a vivid and emotional portrait of the human experience, making “Summer’s End” a standout track on his final album, “The Tree of Forgiveness”.