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4.8 out of 5 stars
John Prine
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44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I'll admit that I was drawn to John Prine on the strength of one line from the song Sam Stone. There's a hole in daddy's arm where all the money goes. That got me. Prine has a wonderful gift for injecting humor into intensely uncomfortable and painful situations. Prine has a lot of great albums and songs, but this debut is, in my opinion, the best that he has or will ever do. John possessed a maturity and insight well beyond his years on this one. Kris Kristofferson wrote the liner notes, praising Prine greatly(and deservedly so). Songs like Illegal Smile, Hello In There, Pretty Good, Quiet Man, Donald & Lydia and Six O' Clock News earned Prine a place in the songwriters hall of fame with the likes of Townes Van Zandt, Bob Dylan, Guy Clark, Steve Earle & Bob Mould. Prine wrote everything on this one himself & the lyrics are included with the cd. If you're into brilliant singer-songwriters, then I do believe you're looking in the right place. Even better news...he certainly kept up the great work on the follow-up to this one(Diamonds In The Rough). Prine has been off and on over the years, but his first two or three years were almost flawless. There is almost no way to live up to a debut like this, but Prine has periodically pulled it off. Prine's voice is accessible & blends well with the country/folk/blues music. This is a must have. If you are only going to own one John Prine cd...then add this to your cart right now!
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57 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2002
Format: Audio CD
I used to sing, "There's a hole in Daddy's arm where all the money goes" to my own kids and anyone who would listen, when the mood struck. This album was like a shockwave to people like me, the anti-war, idealists who thought that they'd already grasped the essence of life, and these songs, and this voice made the whole thing even more certain. Prine and the late Steve Goodman were first heard in Chicago, a city I frequented during my Wisconsin college years. His songs were the poems of a country rebel,with unpreposessing wisdom- I can't find one thing about them that isn't just as perfectly suited this many years later. "Your flag decal won't get you into heaven any more." The irony of that, is just too perfect for comfort. I saw him a few times in later years, when he opened for Nanci Griffith, when I thought it should've been the other way around. He was just as irreverent and kind of shy, wisecracker, with that almost unbearable, sensitivity broken with a relief of inspired wit. Some of the songs have been remade, like "Hello In There." Every time I hear it I can't help but think that it won't be long when that could be me, he's singing about. I asked my college age son when I saw that John Prine was giving a concert at his school, what he thought about him, and he said, he liked "Angel From Montgomery," ironically, one of the few I couldn't sing all the words to. But that son enlisted, the war on whatever the hell it is, and here's one hardline old leftie with a broken heart. Anyone who buys this album can grasp the late 60's that were actually the 70's when Bill Clinton was opposing the war and other's went and died. Lyndon Johnson's tapes revealed that he knew it was a lost cause, and yet, we and the older members of the anti-war movement, could only get comfort through the music and the sense of belonging. "That Illegal Smile," is what we've been trying to drug test our kids for my own son, is "Far From Me." Peace.
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42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2000
Format: Audio CD
a long time ago, I wrote this for amazon as music lover from California. I have now decided to come clean. Do I get my two votes? Here is how brilliant John Prine is. Bette Midler covered Hello in There" and it still comes off well! I remember seeing this album in a stack of vinyl when there was only vinyl. It was the era where flag decals were given with copies of Reader's Digest. I remember hearing the song "Flag Decal" and thinking how awesome it wass that I understood the song. Last year I bought the tape of John Prine for my car. I hadn't heard it in twenty five years...but it seems as relevant today as it was twenty five years ago. Songs laced with pathos, sardonic humor, and most importantly.,heartbeats of the human condition, John Prine is a treasure still, managing to be both a time capsule, a record of the time is was written in and a current event lesson. I listen to alot of music and am not a John Prine head, nor am I a John Prine groupie. I have this album, and this one only...but it is an exceptional one. I say hooray to all kinds of music, but let's give folkies like John Prine his due. Here is one fabulous songwriter that deserves a listen
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 1999
Format: Audio CD
Here is how brilliant John Prine is. Bette Midler covered Hello in There" and it still comes off well!!! I remember seeing this album in a stack of vinyl when there was only vinyl. It was the era where flag decals were given with copies of Reader's Digest. I remember hearing the song "Flag Decal" and thinking how awesome it wass that I understood the song. Last year I bought the tape of John Prine for my car. I hadn't heard it in twenty five years...but it seems as relevant today as it was twenty five years ago. Songs laced with pathos, sardonic humor, and most importantly.,heartbeats of the human condition, John Prine is a treasure still, managing to be both a time capsule, a record of the time is was written in and a current event lesson. I listen to alot of music and am not a John Prine head, nor am I a John Prine groupie. I have this album, and this one only...but it is an exceptional one. I say hooray to all kinds of music, but let's give folkies like John Prine his due. Here is one fabulous songwriter that deserves a listen
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 1999
Format: Audio CD
John Prine's debut album is an essential for any true fan and an excellent starting point for any newcomers to Prine's work. Although all of Prine's albums contain great songs, this album has arguably the best collection of music on any single Prine album. John Prine has an incredible ability to create characters and situations in his songs which seem as real and familiar as your next-door neighbor. His insightful and enigmatic lyrics are comparable to Bob Dylan, and his free and comfortable singing style appeals to fans of folk, country, and blues. This album is a must-have- but then again, aren't all of Prine's albums?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 1999
Format: Audio CD
Can't believe I've been listening to Prine for over 20 years. Seems like only yesterday I first heard his debut album. Lucky to see him on stage a couple times, and see first-hand his ability to bring an audience to tears with one song and laughing their heads off the next on an emotional roller coaster. First time in Poughkeepsie, NY, in the early 80's, where I believe 1/2 to 3/4's of the audience never heard of him before, but were definitely believers by the time he finished. Many classics on this album, saying so much with so few words, aptly capturing a lifetime of experience and emotional with a few minutes of song. "We lost Davey in the Korean War/and I still don't know what for/don't matter anymore" (Hello in There), reveals a unique worldly yet haunting perspective rarely seen in such a young artist of that time, which still brings tears to my eyes even as I write this though hearing it hundreds of times over the years. This first album is great work that transcends time. Keep it up, John!
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2005
Format: Audio CD
This album is full of great songs, it's an all-time classic. I want to focus on one in particular, though. Prine said recently that he brought it out of a 25-year retirement at the special request of the President -- "not a formal request, but he's sure asking for it." The song, of course, is "Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore," originally written about the Vietnam War.

The song features a guy so patriotic that he covers his windshield with flag decals, runs into a tree and dies. However, the "man at the pearly gates" says: "But your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore, it's already overcrowded from your dirty little war. Now Jesus don't like killin', no matter what the reason's for, and your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore!"

One of the best things about the song is that it's not Dylanesque folk, it's not psychedelic, it's country, complete with pedal steel guitar. It goes well with that great observation that "patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels" and TR's thundering defense of dissent, saying that blind support of the President is the worst form of treason (that's Teddie Roosevelt, the Republican president).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
If you are at all interested in contemporary folk music and its history, this is one of 3 or 4 disks that MUST be in your collection. It is simply one of the most impressive debut albums ever released, in all of popular music.

John Hiatt interviewed Prine on a "Sessions at West 57th" episode. It went something like this.

----------------

Hiatt: Is it true you wrote your first three songs over a single weekend ? ... what were they ?

Prine: Yes, it was to get ready for my first gig. The songs were "Sam Stone", "Paradise", and "Hello in There."

Hiatt (no slouch himself): Man, that's quite a weekend. For a lot of people, that would be a great CAREER.

----------------

Not only were these great songs when released. Thirty years and hundreds of plays later, they can still give me shivers. The depth and maturity of these songs coming from such a young songwriter was simply staggering. ... and, as others have noted, there is not a single weak song on the album.

Prine has had an impressive career (in quality, if not quantity of sales), but no single album of his is as uniformly impressive as his debut. Although his most recent, Fair and Square, may come close.

We're fortunate to still have Prine around after his bout of cancer. Buy this album, the Great Days anthology, and Fair & Square. Then check out Pollstar and go see him live when he's in your area. You won't be disappointed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Unfortunately, gone are the days when record companies would sign up an artist that didn't fit into any current categories. Like some guy that wrote songs while walking his postal route. If there are songwriters like John out there now we will never get a chance to hear them. Back in the early 70s so much of the buzz about an obscure artist came from word of mouth promotion. I remember hearing a band playing "Sam Stone" and it stopped me in my tracks. I had to know where that song came from. I bought the lp the next day and became a lifelong fan. And this album is timeless. John can have you laughing in one verse and crying like a baby in the next. He's simply one of the best lyricists I've ever heard.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I didn't like this album when I first heard it. It sounded country to me and I had never cared for country music. But a friend played it a lot and it finally started to sink in. It's not about the sound, it's about the lyrics. Every song on this album is no less than brilliant and all were written by John Prine by the time he was twenty. I've listened to it more times than I can count and heard it in my head more often than that and it still amazes me, makes me smile and brings tears to my eyes.
I was and am a big fan of Kris Kristoferson and it was he who discovered John Prine. His liner notes were a big part of what really made me pay attention to John's lyrics.
I got to see him live in the cafeteria of Long Beach State University in California in 1971. Literally in the cafeteria. He sat on a cafeteria chair about 4 or 5 feet from me and a number of other fans. It was a wonderful experience.
If you haven't heard it before, get it by all means and play it through headphones late at night. If you listen to any song on it and think it less than superb, listen to it again. It only means you missed something.
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