Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A Big Old Goofy World

 

My stepdaughter sent me a text yesterday to let me know that 73-year old singer-songwriter John Prine, a favorite of ours for decades, has been hospitalized in critical condition with coronavirus symptoms. He’s been in poor health for some time, surviving a bout with cancer in the late 1990s, and has had several subsequent surgeries, so he is in more than one high-risk group for Covid-19.

He’s one of the very few contemporary entertainers I’ve admired enough that I actually roused myself to see him in a live performance, catching him at an outdoor concert at Pittsburgh’s Hartwood Acres several years ago. It was sweet. As are so many of his songs. Although he never really hit “big time” commercial success, Prine’s fans are loyal and legion, and those who cite him as an influencer for, and inspiration to, their own music include such luminaries as Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello, and Kris Kristofferson (who “discovered” Prine in the early 70s when Prine was working during the day as a mailman, and singing his songs in nightclubs at night).

But for me, when I hear the name, “John Prine,” there’s just one indelible memory and a heart-stopping flashback across twenty years.

October 1999. Jenny’s wedding. The Father/Daughter dance. What was the song? Some sappy old chestnut: Sinatra? Armstrong? Crosby? Cole? Something a bit more contemporary: Stevie Wonder? The Beatles? Barry White (perish the thought)? Billy Joel?

None of those. No contest. Not even close.

For four minutes, it was just the three of them: Frank. Jenny. And John Prine.

There’s a big old goofy man
Dancing with a big old goofy girl
Ooh baby
It’s a big old goofy world

Thank you, John Prine. We’ll never forget. God Bless and Godspeed on the next stage of your journey, wherever it takes you.

Full lyrics here. I just love this song. What about you? Is there a song in your life that evokes just One Moment in Time? I hope so.

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  1. Nohaaj Coolidge

    A beautiful memory. Thank you for sharing. 

    • #1
    • March 30, 2020, at 6:06 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  2. Mark Camp Member

    hoo boy, wasn’t ready for that. Sometimes listening to some music hits me hard in a way that I can’t find words to describe.

    Thanks, She.

    • #2
    • March 30, 2020, at 6:13 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  3. EODmom Coolidge

    Such a lovely picture- as I age I take enormous comfort from such memories and memory prompts. What a blessing to have your step daughter’s loving reminder of who her father and your husband is. Thank you for such an intimate memory. 

    • #3
    • March 30, 2020, at 6:51 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  4. KentForrester Moderator

    Mrs. She, I’ve always wanted to love Prine’s songs because the lyrics are so clever and intelligent, but I just can’t get past his craggy, off-tune voice. I do have six of his songs on my iPhone, though, and I listen to them occasionally. Here are two: In Spite of Ourselves (with Iris Dement) and In a Town This Size (with Dolores Keane). I don’t mind his voice so much when he duets with a female.

    I have the same problem with Bob Dylan’s voice (though I bought The Times They Are a-Changin’ album in 1964.)

    Perfect song for the wedding dance, though.

    • #4
    • March 30, 2020, at 6:58 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  5. Brian Wyneken Member

    With John Prine there is so much – it’s hard to pick. I’d posted on the member feed a few months back a piece that included “Souvenirs” (a video from the 57th Street Sessions). Like that post, there are many situations that conjure a recollection of a Prine tune.

    • #5
    • March 30, 2020, at 7:04 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  6. EDISONPARKS Member
    EDISONPARKS Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Love John Prine

    Lately I’ve been listening to Speed of Loneliness, Bruised Orange, and the well covered Angel from Montgomery.

    Let’s pray he makes it through this.

    • #6
    • March 30, 2020, at 7:32 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  7. JoelB Member

    The song could be titled “The Cliché Song”. Very cleverly put together. I have never been acquainted with John Prine. It’s a very enjoyable piece. Thanks for sharing the memory.

    • #7
    • March 30, 2020, at 7:34 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  8. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Mrs. She, I’ve always wanted to love Prine’s songs because the lyrics are so clever and intelligent, but I just can’t get past his craggy, off-tune voice. I do have six of his songs on my iPhone, though, and I listen to them occasionally. Here are two: In Spite of Ourselves (with Iris Dement) and In a Town This Size (with Dolores Keane). I don’t mind his voice so much when he duets with a female.

    I have the same problem with Bob Dylan’s voice (though I bought The Times They Are a-Changin’ album in 1964.)

    Perfect song for the wedding dance, though.

    Yeah, Andrea Bocelli he’s not, I’ll give you that. (Lord. Bocelli turned 60 a year or two ago. Crimenutely.) On the other hand, I think his voice is well-suited to his songs, and their sparse instrumentation. I think the same thing about Kris Kristofferson, and prefer his versions of almost all his songs to those by others who cover them, even Johnny Cash.

    I’m deeply suspicious of the voice not fitting the music or the mood, and for that reason alone, I find fault with a lot of either the “Great American Songbook” effusions of many rock-and-rollers, or the attempts at popular music by those with “real” voices. Although I think Bocelli gets it just right with this reprise of an Elvis Presley hit, another of those “moment in time” pieces of music, this one catapulting me back to my mother-in-law’s bedside:

     

    • #8
    • March 30, 2020, at 8:04 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  9. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    Here are two: In Spite of Ourselves (with Iris Dement) and In a Town This Size (with Dolores Keane). I don’t mind his voice so much when he duets with a female.

    Your mention of Iris Dement and a song with the word “Town” in it reminded me of this song, which I also like. (It was written by Iris Dement and has nothing to do with John Prine. My mind, like that of Another, sometimes works in mysterious ways, and my musical tastes are eclectic to say the least. Also, ID has an awesome harmonizer in this version):

    • #9
    • March 30, 2020, at 8:38 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  10. Kay of MT Member

    Lovely, thank you She. My dad was a Country singer that never made it big either. He taught me to sing, but my favorite was him singing, “You Are My Sunshine” when I was 7 years old.

    • #10
    • March 30, 2020, at 8:58 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  11. Concretevol Thatcher

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    I just can’t get past his craggy, off-tune voice.

    Which is what draws me to him I think….. To each their own :)

    • #11
    • March 30, 2020, at 9:04 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  12. KentForrester Moderator

    Concretevol (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    I just can’t get past his craggy, off-tune voice.

    Which is what draws me to him I think….. To each their own :)

    Concretevol, I know what you mean. I almost like his voice. In fact, on certain songs, I do like it, usually when he’s singing a duet with a female. 

    My favorite songs come with clever or narrative lyrics, sparse instrumental background, and a natural voice, usually baritone. I like singers like Roger Miller, Johnny Cash, and Hank Williams, Jr. 

    • #12
    • March 30, 2020, at 9:20 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    This is an interesting question. There are few tracks, mostly from whatever was near the top of the pop charts in 1988 / 89, that would place me squarely at a certain fall dance, but I’ve no fondness for the tracks themselves, and nobody wants me to link Bon Jovi videos as they might worsen the general panic.

    Beyond that? I’m hard pressed. There were some children’s songs that I’m sure could evoke memories, or tracks I remember my parents playing. Perhaps some video game or movie music?

    • #13
    • March 30, 2020, at 9:25 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  14. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    SkipSul (View Comment):
    There are few tracks, mostly from whatever was near the top of the pop charts in 1988 / 89, that would place me squarely at a certain fall dance, but I’ve no fondness for the tracks themselves, and nobody wants me to link Bon Jovi videos as they might worsen the general panic.

    LOL. Thank you for sparing us. I wonder if most of us have such tracks from one-or-another phase of our lives. One of mine would probably be “Bud the Spud,” by that East Coast (Canada) music legend, Stomping Tom Connors. (Did I mention that my musical oeuvre is rather odd?) It’s almost enough to make one beg for Bon Jovi. (On an interesting linguistic note, his pronunciation of the word “potatoes” is a Holmesian or Higginsian clue as to his origins, as with those who know how to pronounce “Newfoundland” correctly.)

    Every time I hear this (and I don’t hear it often, not being compelled to play it myself (although I do have it), and as it’s unlikely to appear on any program I’m listening to these days), I’m 19 years old, expertly wielding a filleting knife and setting lobster traps, digging hundreds of pounds of clams a week, and frolicking in a (fairly respectable) bikini on miles of sandy beaches.

    • #14
    • March 30, 2020, at 10:33 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  15. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Concretevol (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    I just can’t get past his craggy, off-tune voice.

    Which is what draws me to him I think….. To each their own :)

    Concretevol, I know what you mean. I almost like his voice. In fact, on certain songs, I do like it, usually when he’s singing a duet with a female.

    My favorite songs come with clever or narrative lyrics, sparse instrumental background, and a natural voice, usually baritone. I like singers like Roger Miller, Johnny Cash, and Hank Williams, Jr.

    Oh, I like them too! And Roger Miller was a particular favorite of my mother.

    • #15
    • March 30, 2020, at 10:40 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  16. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Kay of MT (View Comment):

    Lovely, thank you She. My dad was a Country singer that never made it big either. He taught me to sing, but my favorite was him singing, “You Are My Sunshine” when I was 7 years old.

    Thanks, @kayofmt. I don’t know if you’ve seen the Ken Burns Country Music series which aired on PBS several months ago? I’m not a reflexive fan of Ken Burns, because of some of his political opinions, but if you can look past that, it was very good, and covered “country” from its beginnings up until the mid-90s. The DVDs, I see, are a bit pricey, but they may be available for less somewhere, or perhaps at the library (if it’s open). Or, perhaps PBS will replay it sometime. Any way, I think it’s worth a look; much interesting and original footage.

    • #16
    • March 30, 2020, at 10:46 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  17. Joshua Bissey Coolidge

    Another Prine fan here. Thanks for the update.

    • #17
    • March 30, 2020, at 1:35 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  18. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    Saw him in Seattle with that other great, Steve Goodman. Sigh…

     

    • #18
    • March 30, 2020, at 3:13 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  19. danys Thatcher
    danys Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Saw him in Seattle with that other great, Steve Goodman. Sigh…

     

    That one touches too close to home. My father turns 93 today & I cannot visit him.

    • #19
    • March 30, 2020, at 4:57 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  20. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):
    Saw him in Seattle with that other great, Steve Goodman. Sigh…

    I also like “Hello In There.” It seems especially apt now.

    Saw Steve Goodman at the Earl of Old Town, before he got to be big and when the drinkin’ age was 18. He told a joke that I still remember but that would violate the CoC.

    • #20
    • March 30, 2020, at 4:57 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  21. A-Squared Coolidge

    I came to John Prine late in life, long after I stopped listening to music much, but I’ve learned how much he influenced the artists I grew up listening to.

    I wish him well and hope he comes through this.

    Speaking of seeing old favorites in concert, my sister and I recently went to go see David Allan Coe put on a show. It was, well, bad. I wish I had left him in my memory instead of seeing what he had become.

    • #21
    • March 30, 2020, at 6:20 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  22. Eeyore Member
    Eeyore Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    1973. D.A.R. Constitution Hall. Two vurrrry bright spotlights slam open. He throws his arm up across his eyes and says “Whoa! It’s like a tractor-trailer sayin’ ‘Sing, boy, or we’ll run ya down!’ “

    • #22
    • March 30, 2020, at 10:52 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. Southern Pessimist Member

    Seeing Janis Joplin live in 1969 was a religious experience. From 1967to 1980 I went to hundreds of concerts by almost all of the great artists and bands of that age. The concerts got more and more expensive and loud enough to be painful. I shifted to smaller more intimate venues where over the decades I have seen John Prine, Bonnie Raitt, Lyle Lovett and many dozens of similar artists over and over again. I think I have seen those three performers at least 5 times each, often together. Americana music is our great heritage.

    • #23
    • March 31, 2020, at 5:40 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  24. The Dowager Jojo Inactive

    I never see a hot dog bun without singing “Well done……my sister’s a nun.” My family tolerates me.

    • #24
    • April 1, 2020, at 1:35 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  25. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The Dowager Jojo (View Comment):

    I never see a hot dog bun without singing “Well done……my sister’s a nun.” My family tolerates me.

    Awww.

     

    • #25
    • April 1, 2020, at 4:50 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  26. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Tony Norman, who’s a well-known columnist with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote this lovely tribute.

    Despite major assaults to his health in the last decade, including two bouts of potentially career-ending cancer, he’s maintained both a touring and recording career when others would’ve called it a day. He has one less lung and a lot less neck tissue than what he started with during the first term of the Nixon administration.

    And that’s one of the endearing things about him. As his website indicates, his touring schedule for the upcoming year is full, and, despite surgery for cancer in the late ’90s which removed a large portion of one side of his neck, which also severed some nerves in his tongue, and removal of his left lung (also cancer) in 2013, he kept on trucking and doing what he loved.

    Apparently, due to excruciating hip pain, he underwent hip replacement surgery in the last month or two, and had cancelled his immediate schedule. Hm.

    He’s a tough old bird, and apparently is hanging in. Prayers.

     

    • #26
    • April 1, 2020, at 5:02 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  27. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    John Prine has died, from complications of coronavirus. Rest in peace, old friend.

    • #27
    • April 7, 2020, at 9:18 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  28. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    She (View Comment):

    John Prine has died, from complications of coronavirus. Rest in peace, old friend.

    Nuts.

    • #28
    • April 8, 2020, at 2:05 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  29. EDISONPARKS Member
    EDISONPARKS Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    You can gaze out the window get mad and get madder,
    Throw your hands in the air, say “; What does it matter?”;
    But it don’t do no good to get angry,
    So help me I know
    For a heart stained in anger grows weak and grows bitter.
    You become your own prisoner as you watch yourself sit there
    Wrapped up in a trap of your very own
    Chain of sorrow.

    I thought he was going to pull through … RIP to a great song writer and a sweet man.

     

    • #29
    • April 8, 2020, at 8:17 AM PDT
    • 1 like