BITTERSWEET, Ky. — Often when searching for new music to listen to, I find myself heading backwards to the days when I wrote songs, as opposed to columns. It is there I find some of the best performers and most entertaining music I have ever had the pleasure of listening to.
That’s not to say I don’t like the current musical offerings, because I do, and I’m surprised a lot of times by how much I really like today’s performers and their song selections. But I find myself really drawn to a time gone by on many occasions.
Maybe it’s an age thing and I’m trying to hold on to some semblance of my youth. Maybe it’s a pride thing, when I was on that stage and wanted more than anything to make it big or have a hit song. Maybe it’s just that I really like the music that influenced me the most at a time when I was more susceptible to being influenced.
Whatever the reason, I’m always happy to walk down memory lane – and during my most recent stroll I stumbled upon one of my favorite singers/songwriters, John Prine. This guy is one of the most talented writers on the planet, and I think it is because he is such a good storyteller.
Prine’s music always drew a picture in my mind that was so vivid and easy to understand. Three of my favorite Prine songs, “Please Don’t Bury Me,” “Paradise” and “Hello in There” are all different: part country, part folk, part social statement, but all so really good.
While a solid fan base saw and continues to see John as quite famous, he probably has been more well-known to other performers who saw the value in his music and the sincerity in his words.
Perhaps one reason for that is that Prine’s music has never really been a part of just one genre. He has been described as country or folk or Americana, and often all three at the same time.
Besides his great music, the best thing about this 71-year-old is, at an age when many are retiring, Prine is still at work. In fact, he is about to release his first album of new music in 13 years. The Tree of Forgiveness is due in April. Besides making new music, he still tours, and will be in my neck of the woods this May.
I am convinced there will never be another John Prine, and maybe not another performer I like as well. But maybe that’s the way it should be. See you in May, John!
Bluegrass Johnson comes from a long line of country music performers and enjoys a passion for the rhythm and melody. From the hills of Kentucky, he will offer his opinions on a variety of new country music each week. Readers with questions or comments may write to Johnson in care of this publication.