Prime Prine

Prime Prine

Beginning in 1971, John Prine released an album a year. By 1976—when the retrospective collection Prime Prine was released—the former Chicago postman was a cult hero and a songwriter’s songwriter, on par with Townes Van Zandt or Guy Clark. “The sad songs almost haunting,” wrote DJ Pat Dawson in the original liner notes to Prime Prine, “the funny ones like a sardonic private joke between author and listener.” Though it leaves out the wooly, off-the-cuff atmosphere that one gets from listening to his full albums, Prime Prine is an excellent primer on Prine’s early songwriting. All 12 songs were composed before he turned 30, and each offers a distinctive perspective: on the world, on relationships, on family. He's simultaneously wry yet tender, truthful yet eccentric, charming yet strangely obscure. For pure heartbreak go to “Sam Stone,” “Souvenirs," and “Hello in There.” For comic relief, try “Please Don’t Bury Me” and “Dear Abby." And for that distinctive and intangible quality unique to Prine, see “Sweet Revenge,” “Illegal Smile," and "Come Back to Us Barbara Lewis Hare Krishna Beauregard.”

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