Few can compare to the great John Prine - brilliant singer, songwriter and even at age 61, still quite the rockabilly rocker. Eddie and I were eating out of the palm of Prine’s hand last night, as we do at everyone of his concerts. He treated the sold out crowd at the Uptown Theatre to over two hours of his signature work: Sam Stone, Hello in There, Grandpa Was a Carpenter, It’s a Big Old Goofy World, Lake Marie, Souvenirs, Angel From Montgomery, Donald and Lydia, Illegal Smile, Taking a Walk, She is My Everything, Dear Abby, Fish and Whistle, well, the list goes on and on. His writing skills never cease to amaze me. These are poignant, sad, humorous and sober songs about the everyday loves, dreams and devastating losses of ordinary people. If you have never heard him in concert, just do it one of these days. If you’re lucky, he’ll bring along one of his fellow singer songwriters, usually one of the female persuasion, who joins him onstage for some of his dreamy duets. Last night, he had Maura O’Connell in tow. You’d be in for a special treat, as we were a couple of years ago, if Iris DeMent stood at his side.
We first saw John Prine back in 1975, when we lived in Madison, Wisconsin. Going to concerts was a way of life for us back then. And everyone who was anyone included Madtown on their tour. I used to shoot for the Univeristy of Wisconsin daily, so I had a press badge. This entitled me to get up close and personal with most of the musicians, meaning either a good spot for shooting during the show and/or a backstage pass. Trust me, it was a pretty wild time. A lot of fun.
Anyhow, I have a stash of negs dating back to 1975 of everyone from Dylan, CSN&Y, Bette Midler, Neil Young, Jethro Tull, Joni Mitchell, The Allman Brothers, Loggins and Messina to John Denver, Jim Croce, Tom Waits, Leon Russell , Taj Mahal and Leo Kotke. I printed up one of Neil Yound recently and actually sold it on e-bay for a hundred bucks to some guy who claimed I was the next Henry Diltz (whoever that is).
I think this shot of John Prine was from the first time we ever attended one his performances - September, 1975. He certainly had a lot more hair and was much skinnier than he is now, but, let me tell you, his unique voice has aged like a good bottle of Scotch.