12 Songs, 38 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

While John Prine’s first two albums can be viewed as handsome twins, 1973’s Sweet Revenge feels like the start of a new chapter. There's more instrumentation here than on the first two records, with a bevy of Nashville session musicians chipping bits of rock and soul into Prine’s rustic folk style. Most of Prine’s songs take place at the intersection of absurdity and poignancy, and Sweet Revenge proves he could spin magic from the random or mundane situations he encountered in his life, such as reading an advice column (“Dear Abby”) or witnessing a collision at a dangerous Chicago intersection (“The Accident (Things Could Be Worse)”). He wrote about organ donation (“Please Don’t Bury Me”) and spending Christmas day behind bars (“Christmas in Prison”). He even wrote songs about hot weather (“Mexican Home”) and about the writing process itself (“Onomatopoeia”). After describing so many glimpses of the strangeness of modern life, Prine closes his album with the country standard “Nine Pound Hammer,” as if to remind listeners that their poet will always be a country picker at heart—albeit one with sensitivity and a taste for the extraordinary and peculiar.

EDITORS’ NOTES

While John Prine’s first two albums can be viewed as handsome twins, 1973’s Sweet Revenge feels like the start of a new chapter. There's more instrumentation here than on the first two records, with a bevy of Nashville session musicians chipping bits of rock and soul into Prine’s rustic folk style. Most of Prine’s songs take place at the intersection of absurdity and poignancy, and Sweet Revenge proves he could spin magic from the random or mundane situations he encountered in his life, such as reading an advice column (“Dear Abby”) or witnessing a collision at a dangerous Chicago intersection (“The Accident (Things Could Be Worse)”). He wrote about organ donation (“Please Don’t Bury Me”) and spending Christmas day behind bars (“Christmas in Prison”). He even wrote songs about hot weather (“Mexican Home”) and about the writing process itself (“Onomatopoeia”). After describing so many glimpses of the strangeness of modern life, Prine closes his album with the country standard “Nine Pound Hammer,” as if to remind listeners that their poet will always be a country picker at heart—albeit one with sensitivity and a taste for the extraordinary and peculiar.

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