Shubert Performing Arts Center in New Haven, CT
Date: March 1,20 02
By: Blue Noser
This is my third time seeing john live. His show is great as usual. I was just wondering why he does not sing The accident my
favorite. Thanks Lanny P.S. See you April 19.
PRINE FINDS STRIDE
By: ERIC R. DANTON, Courant Staff Writer
If life is indeed a comedy to those who think, then John Prine is truly a deep thinker.
Though he has written a fair number of melancholy songs during a career spanning more than three decades, Prine has often managed to locate a sliver of humor in otherwise bleak situations.
In a lengthy set Friday night at the Shubert Performing Arts Center in New Haven, Prine treated a rapt crowd to nearly two dozen of his sometimes wry, sometimes somber songs.
The show was subdued to start, with Prine playing world-weary tunes like "Souvenirs," "Storm Windows" and an aching version of "Angel From Montgomery," which Bonnie Raitt has adopted as a signature concert song.
The humor started to creep in on "Fish and Whistle." Prine told the audience he played the Mayberry-influenced tune for Andy Griffith while working on an as-yet unreleased movie with the actor. "He hasn't spoken to me since," Prince said.
With a pair of smartly dressed backing musicians on bass and guitar, Prine rolled through "Grandpa Was a Carpenter" and the teasing "Dear Abby."
When members of the audience started shouting out requests between songs, Prine paused before delivering a disarming reply: "I know 'em all."
And he did, though he had a bit of trouble with the guitar part on "In Spite of Ourselves," a hilariously bawdy song that he recorded as a duet with Iris DeMent.
Later in the show, Prine donned an electric guitar for "Ain't Hurtin' Nobody," which he dedicated to Waylon Jennings. Jennings, a pioneer of "outlaw country" music, died last month of complications from diabetes.
In a generous encore, Prine started with "Please Don't Bury Me." He introduced the silly ode to organ donation by saying, "This next song should be on the back of everyone's driver's license."
Prine let the crowd sing the chorus on "Illegal Smile," and opener Todd Snider returned to the stage to sing and play on "Paradise."
Snider is clearly a musical descendant of Prine. His loopy humor drew laughs from the crowd on "Just in Case," and he was not at all offended when someone in the balcony shouted out a request for "Ordinary Guy."
"It's actually called `Alright Guy,'" Snider said. "But I'm just happy you know who I am."
Snider also played the brilliantly subversive "Talkin' Seattle Grunge Rock Blues," which appeared as a hidden track on his debut album, "Songs For The Daily Planet."
By: Bill & Bev Sussex, NJ
The past few years have been spent introducing my sweetie, Bev, to an old friend, John Prine. A huge Dillon fan, she easily fell into the bottomless lake of devoted Prine fans. I have been one of those devout followers since the early 70's and just had to get tickets to finish her off and let her see the magnetism caused by one of J.P.'s shows. Friday at the Shubert was as usual, phenominal. Having never been to the Shubert before, we fell in love with its' quaint, stylish, motif w/its' overwhelming roots in American theater history. The acoustical quality in this hall was just ringing with the lyrics and artistry of my old friend JP. The song set couldn't have been any sweeter--from the opening with Spanish Pipedream to the closing with Paradise. And the list in between included six o'clock news, souvenirs, fish & whistle, grandpa was a carpenter, angel from montgomery, donald and lydia, dear abby, thats the way that the world goes round, bottomless lake, in spite of ourselves (wanted to just jump up there and do my best darn impersonation of Iris to help out, but it might have sent a frightening new tune to john's writing tablet on the steering wheel!!), sam stone, ain't hurtin nobody, sins of memphisto, and please don't bury me. The highlights for us were
Hello In There, Lake Marie, and of course Illegal Smile. Well you now have one more convert to add to the list of JP followers and in April our 16 yr old son will be the next to be added when he too will be priveledged to witness the awe inspiring style of John Prine in Albany. Great show old friend and looking foward to many more for the years to come!!!!!!
What can I say? Another great show. another wonderful night. Todd Snider opened for John. It was the first time I've seen him live.
He was great. I was so impressed that I went to the lobby at intermission and bought his Oh Boy CD. You got to hear this guy.
and then John...He was upbeat, smiling, happy....had the whole audience mesmerized from the get go. The Shubert is a cool old theater which had excellent
acoustics. He started off a set with Dave and Jason: Spanish
Pipedream (of course),6 o'clock news, Souvenirs, Fish & Whistle,
Grandpa Was A Carpenter, Picture Show, Storm Windows, All the Best, Angel from
Montgomery. Then he did his solo set: Dear Abby, Donald and Lydia, Big Ol' Goofy
World (too chicken to yell out "right here, John" .damn),
Bottomless Lake (really got the audience going), Other Side of Town, One Red
Rose, In Spite of Ourselves, Sam Stone. Then Jason and Dave came back on and they
sang: Bear Creek, Ain't Hurtin' Nobody (dedicated
to Waylon, which I thought was way cool!), Great Rain, Sins of Memphisto, Hello In There and then ending with Lake Marie (we gotta go now...). Encore? of course!! Please Don't Bury
Illegal Smile (with audience alone singing last refrain and John grinnin' from ear to ear) and then Todd comes out to join in on
a rousing version of Paradise. Like I said, it was another truly
wonderful night. If you haven't seen John yet, you don't know what
you're missing...I can't wait to see him again in April in
Albany. Maybe some of you will make it to the show? Well, I've
gone on long enough. Ooooh baby, we gotta go now.....
By: Billy C. New Hartford CT,
Very very good. Was there any classic he did not sing? BC 3-2-02
Legendary Songwriter Performs With Todd Snider At New Haven's Shubert, March 1
Date: February 28, 2002
By: JOSHUA MAMIS , New Haven Advocate [email protected]
NEW HAVEN --
Here's all you need to know about why, even way back when, John Prine was never gonna be "the new Bob Dylan," nor did he have any pretensions to be: In the song "Spanish Pipedream," he rhymes "peaches" with "Jesus."
Prine may have had more raw talent than any young singer-songwriter of his post-Dylan compeers, but this was the first clue that he also wasn't too serious to self-mock, to giggle at a near rhyme or to remind us that hey, man, these are just songs.
So here we are, 30 years after his first release, a record that includes a mind-boggling roster of now classics--"Sam Stone," "Angel From Montgomery," "Hello in There," "Paradise," "Donald & Lydia" and the never more relevant "Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore"--and he's still being asked by interviewers about having been labeled "the new Dylan."
It happens twice in an interview with John Hiatt (who should know better) on the new DVD, Sessions at West 54th, an expanded version of a live set that aired on the PBS TV series of the same name. Prine good-naturedly shrugs it off. The Dylan tag hasn't been an albatross, because Prine has understood that it's just plain silly. He's more of a spiritual descendent of Hank Williams, Harlan Howard and Roger Miller than the topically bred strummers of post-beatnik Greenwich Village. (This explains why he has felt so at home since moving to Nashville in the '80s.)
Prine wasn't interested in changing the world so much as (like the classic Nashville songwriters) he had stories to tell and he told 'em. The highest art he aspires to seems to be putting together a three-minute song with strong lyrics and a melody you can sing. The kinds of songs that feel like you've heard before the moment you hear 'em for the first time. (Critics say that's because he's re-writing the same basic melodies--a charge I won't quibble with because I like those melodies enough to hear them repeatedly in all their possible variations.)
His songs rushed out of him in a burst after he first sang three original songs--including "Hello in There"--at a Chicago open mic, was invited back for a regular gig, and realized he needed new material. "Souvenirs," for example, was written on the train on his way to one of these gigs. The songs, he once told me in an interview, came to him in snatches of phrases and melodies and pretty damn near wrote themselves. He's an intuitive, right-brain songwriter who seems to feel free to set his images loose without a whole lot of filtering or over-refining.
His work since the first three stellar LPs hasn't hit the same emotional nerve, but don't sell this guy short. Prine, in subtle ways, has reinvented himself over the years (including doing Pink Cadillac, a rockabilly record with Knox Philips at the controls). Let's just not call it "maturing." That first record, John Prine, included a lifetime full of songs about old people and drug-addicted vets and existential sadness. It was filled with the kinds of observations that come from the wisdom of having lived a long, tough life, from a young guy who hadn't.
Now he's 30 years older, with thin, gray hair and has recently recovered from throat cancer. (On the DVD, you can see an enormous cavity from the surgery under his right jawbone.) His more recent work strikes chords of whimsy more than wisdom. You don't have to go much further than "Let's Talk Dirty in Hawaiian" to see what kinds of songs tickle him now.
His last studio project of "new" material, In Spite of Ourselves, is a laid-back set of duets with women singers (Iris DeMent, Lucinda Williams, Melba Montgomery, etc.) covering all sorts of Nashville oddities. It includes, for example, the partner-swapping song "Let's Invite Them Over" and Bobby Braddock's testament to working class romance, "(We're Not) The Jet Set." The only original, the title track, was written for the yet-to-be-released Billy Bob Thornton film Daddy & Them, in which Prine had a major role. It's classic Prine, popped full of cliché ("we're gonna spite the noses right off of our faces") and three-chords (or so) strummed with bouncy rhythm.
Prine never appears tired of performing his greatest hits. In fact, in his post-cancer performances he has reportedly found new meaning and nuance in the material, as he has had to relearn the songs to suit his post-surgical voice. (Given his close friendship with songwriter Steve Goodman, who died of cancer, his bout with mortality has also affected his emotional delivery.) He stands on the DVD dressed in black and sporting a bolo tie. It's an homage, perhaps, to the quintessential American songwriter Johnny Cash (whose "Ballad of a Teenage Queen" Prine used to perform, hysterically, live), and in doing so he is also inadvertently revealing his stature as one of the kings of folk-country-whatever-you-want-to-call-it songwriting.
I've seen Prine about a half a dozen times over the years, and he's one of the only performers I can imagine following on the road, like a Dead- or Parrothead, to hear some of the greatest songs written in my lifetime performed by the guy who wrote them.
I missed Hank. I will likely miss Johnny before he is gone. I'm not gonna miss any more opportunities to hear Prine pull out "Blue Umbrella," or an obscure country music gem. Hear the loneliness in his voice as he dedicates "Souvenirs" to Steve Goodman. Or miss him gently bounce while he fingerpicks a simple chord. Or twinkle while he sings "It's a Big Ol' Goofy World."
Because John Prine's whimsy has become his wisdom. Life may suck. There may be a hole in daddy's arm where all the money goes, and best friends do die of cancer. But there is redemption in the couple who, in spite of themselves, are sitting on a rainbow. There is hope in daddy's little pumpkin. Prine may never have taken us on the surrealistic odyssey of Lily, Rosemary or the Jack of Hearts, but Bob Dylan never makes me feel joy at falling to the bottom of the bottomless lake. John Prine was never the new Dylan. Why would he have wanted to be anyway?