John Prine - Rest in Paradise

Side B, Cut 7 

I met John Prine in Dublin many years ago at a hotel where I was staying — it was at the in-house late night ‘disco’ where one went for a drink a few minutes after the regular hotel bar closed. He was just like a guy from the neighborhood although I knew who he was was.  

We shared Chicago as our musical stomping grounds (on much, much, different levels) and although I had heard his debut album I was still all in to the tunes, and tunes, and more tunes at the time -- with the odd trad song thrown in (so one could sneak off to the jacks). We talked about home and knew a handful of the same people, places, and shared a couple of drinks — he on a Presbyterian - a what, I asked? - whiskey and ginger ale he told me. Not a bad drink at all I might add!  

I didn't want to bend his ear all night so in parting I embarrassingly asked him if he would mind giving me an autograph made out to a friend of mine at the time -- with just a slight odd twist -- could he make it out to "X" and sign it "F**k Off, John Prine"? He looked at me, smiled, chuckled, and said of course. I gave him a pen and then realized I had no paper so I took a five-punt note out of my pocket (it was pre-euro) and he smiled again, shook his head, and signed it!! 

After that, I expanded my musical tastes considerably and became a huge fan of John and his mighty songs and saw him several times in concert over the years, although I never did bother him after the shows (he probably told security to be on the look out for a big old goofy accordion player)... ;-) 

Flash forward to a few years back, Nicholas Tremulis, asked me if I'd like to take part in a concert with Alejandro Escovedo during his residency at the Chicago City Winery -- and the music for that evening was to be the 1971 debut John Prine album from start to finish! After verifying that Nic hadn't suffered any recent head trauma causing him to misdial me, I gladly agreed to do it (although I am still trying to find any trace of accordion on that album)... ;-) 

Turned out to be a brilliant night - of course, look at the source material and the unbelievable cast of Alejandro, Nic (guitar), Kelly Hogan (vocals), Nora O'Connor (vocals), John Pirruccello (pedal steel), Larry Kohut (bass), Larry Beers (drums), and somehow me, the errant interloping squeezer. 

I never in a millennium would think I'd have a chance to play music with John Prine and this was the closest I'd ever come (and never mind taking into account me with all the brilliant musicians above)!  

And you know, it is what we have from such a great mind and musician as John - his words, melodies, and voice are forever ingrained in the music and will carry on. 

What I got the most from John's songs were that they were written for you, and me, and were not some fancy pie-in-the-sky stuff -- just stuff that was there for all to see, yet we lacked John's eye to see it. But he made sure we did through his words... 

My condolences to John's family and his many friends and fans - Rest in Paradise, John - I'll be having a tune and a Presbyterian in your honor today... 

--- 

If you are wondering what Side B, Cut 7 is, it is the last track of that John Prine album and the song and the video attached to this missive from that evening. 

(video link below) 

John Prine: Flashback Blues (Side B, Cut 7) 

While window shopping through the past 
I ran across a looking glass 
Reflecting moments remaining in a burned out light 
Tragic magic prayers of passion 
Stay the same through changing fashions 
They freeze my mind like water on a winter's night 

Spent most of my youth 
Out hobo cruising 
And all I got for proof 
Is rocks in my pockets and dirt in my shoes 
So goodbye nonbeliever 
Don't you know that I hate to leave here 
So long babe, I got the flashback blues 

Photographs show the laughs 
Recorded in between the bad times 
Happy sailors dancing on a sinking ship 
Cloudy skies and dead fruit flies 
Waving goodbye with tears in my eyes 
Well, sure I made it but ya know it was as hell of a trip 

Spent most of my youth 
Out hobo cruising 
And all I got for proof 
Is rocks in my pockets and dirt in my shoes 
And ten times what it grieves you 
That's how much more I hate to leave you now 
So long babe, I got the flashback blues 

Spent most of my youth 
Out hobo cruising 
And all I got for proof 
Is rocks in my pockets and dirt in my shoes 
So goodbye nonbeliever 
Don't you know that I hate to leave here 
So long babe, I got the flashback blues...

 

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