One of the most influential singer-songwriters in folk music, John Prine will come to the Pavilion this Sunday to play songs from his extensive catalog of music. Since he first busted onto the scene back in 1971 with his self-titled debut album, Prine was already creating a buzz. Befriended by beloved singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson, the public was calling Prine the next Bob Dylan and it’s easy to see why. His first album shuffles between folk and country style tunes with a few elements of rock and roll thrown in there. But, it’s his writing that stands out the most.
The album begins on a whimsical note with the songs “Illegal Smile”, about smoking pot and escaping the world for a while which then settles into “Spanish Pipedream” an uplifting tune urging us to turn off our TV’s and try to find Jesus. But the the writing takes a very real turn when songs such as “Sam Stone” and “Paradise” deal with actual problems facing the world such as drug addiction and poverty. Prine shows his savvy side by protesting the war with a smile in “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore” and then takes you back into his great American storytelling world with “Far From Me” and the timeless classic “Angel From Montgomery”, a song that has been covered by numerous artists and is considered a folk standard.
Prine went on to have an excellent career releasing numerous albums and picked up a Grammy for his record The Missing Years. Produced by Howie Epstein from Tom Petty’s band The Heartbreakers, the album received critical praise and featured guest spots from Tom Petty, Bonnie Raitt and Bruce Springsteen. It is also notable that Prine’s voice is much deeper than it was from his earlier albums giving his sound a more mature feel. One of the things I love about John Prine’s writing is the way he can place the listener right into the little worlds he creates and you can’t help but feel that he’s singing all these tunes with a smile on his face. His ability to put humor alongside a beautiful story and not make it seem cheesy is a talent worth of amazement.
Even after needing surgery to remove a cancerous cell in his neck, Prine has continued to sing and produce new material. His voice has altered, becoming more rough but has taken on it’s own unique quality. Catch one of the greatest storytellers on a Sunday night with the cool breeze coming off the water. Tickets can be found here.