If Jimmy Rodgers was the Singing Brakeman, then it’s not too much of a stretch to call John Prine the Singing Postman, since that was how he made rent when he was spending nights sitting at his kitchen table writing his first songs in the late 1960s. By the time he got to Chicago’s Fifth Peg to actually perform, he already had an ass pocket full of greatness.
Roger Ebert recognized his talent and gave Prine his first write-up in the Chicago Sun-Times, saying his songs were like little movies and better than anything he’d seen in a while. Prine’s eponymous 1971 debut album featured some of the most indelible songs in the American songbook, timeless classics that established him as one of the most uniquely gifted voices in American music. Littered with gems like “Paradise,” “Angel from Montgomery,” “Illegal Smile,” “Sam Stone” (no one will ever write a line as wryly tragic as “There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes”) and the achingly sad “Hello in There,” the amazing debut inspired critics to canonize Prine as the “next Dylan,” which he famously dismissed by noting “we’re not done with the first one yet.”
John Prine plays the Aronoff Center Friday with Jason Wilber. Go here to read Brian Baker's full Sound Advice.