John Prine Biography

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John Prine Bio Taylor Bowers 2005
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Bio of John Prine Brian Frain 
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Jpshrine.org is a virtual John Prine biography - full of everything a Prine fan could want!


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ŠK Douglas 2003

1 Table of Contents
    1-2 His Childhood
    2 How He Got Started
    3-8 His Music
    8 John Prine Now
    9 What John Prine Thinks
    9 Bibliography

John Prine
   There are all kinds of songs now a days. Some make you sad, even may make you cry. Others are down right nasty and make you angry. But how many songs do you know that can make you laugh? I mean really laugh! The kind of, fall off your chair holding your gut laugh. That’s what did it for me. My uncle started it one day. We were sitting in his truck before the fun fair last year and all of a sudden, out of the speaker, I hear “…..oh wait I got glue on my string.” John Prine is a great song writer and story teller when it comes to his music. Not only can he get you to laugh, but he does have a serious side and has had to work hard to become what he is today.

   As Prine was growing up he thought the best thing was to have a sense of humour. He says that, “it is hard to hit someone when you are laughing.” His sense of humour probably got him out of more situations than just throwing a punch.
John Prine was born on October 10, 1946 in Maywood Illinois. John’s mom, Verna Valentine Hamm, is the loving mother of the family and their dad, William Mason Prine, was a Tool and Die Maker. They raised their family which included his brothers Dave, Chuck and Billy with good ol’ American values and traditions. Prine got away with most things seeing as he was the third child out of the bunch.
   John Prine went to school and graduated from Proviso East high school (not to mention failed English every year) then took classes at the Chicago Old School of Folk. After high school Prine didn’t attend college but instead choose to serve in the armed forces for two years. He went on to work as a mail man for five years when he finally got his first big break.

How He Got Started
   “My brother Dave taught me my first chord and the first time I held down a chord I didn’t muffle it, well, I just sat there with my ear on the wood even after the sound died feeling the vibrations. From there, it was me sitting there alone in a room singing to a wall.”
   Some people believe (meaning me) that John got his musical talents from his grandfather who never did play with Merle Travis. Prine’s first public performance was done from a dare someone made him in a Chicago night club. It was ‘open mic’ night and after a few beer he knew he could perform better than the others. He sang a few songs and was instantly offered a job to play. Of all the luck Prine met a little man named Steve Goodman which resulted in a new best friend, an introduction to Kris Kristofferson, and a national label deal.
   In 1971, at the age of 24, Prine recorded his debut album “John Prine” and was said to be the next Bob Dylan. He made it through the stomach ulcers and hospitalization, and went on to produce eight more albums through two companies.

His Music
   Over the years John Prine produced and has written many albums, which included his more popular songs such as: Please Don’t Bury Me, Fish n’ Whistle, Souvenirs and Christmas in Prison.
   He then decided to try his hand at being a record company executive. In Nashville, in the early 1980’s, he formed Oh Boy Records with his long time manager Al Bunetta and Dan Einstein. In 1984 he released his first independent album Aimless Love. Between the years 1986 and 1999 he received three Grammy nominations for “German Afternoons”, “John Prine Live” and “In Spite of Ourselves”. In 1991 he won a Grammy for “The Missing Years” which had a few other great performers on it such as Bruce Springstein and Tom Petty. In 2000, John Prine’s first DVD video project was released called “John Prine Live at Sessions at West 54th”.
   Throughout his career, John Prine achieved admiration from many famous people such as Bonnie Raitt, John Denver and Tom Petty. The following link is a list of songs that John Prine has released. 

Please Don't Bury Me
©John Prine
Woke up this morning - Put on my slippers
Walked in the kitchen and died
And oh what a feeling! When my soul Went thru the ceiling
And on up into heaven I did ride
When I got there they did say "John, it happened this way: You slipped upon the floor And hit your head"
And all the angels say Just before you passed away These were the very last words That you said:
" Please don't bury me Down in that cold cold ground
No, I'd druther have "em" cut me up And pass me all around
Throw my brain in a hurricane And the blind can have my eyes
And the deaf can take both of my ears If they don't mind the size
Give my stomach to Milwaukee If they run out of beer
Put my socks in a cedar box Just get "em" out of here
Venus de Milo can have my arms - Look out! I've got your nose
Sell my heart to the junkman And give my love to Rose
Repeat Chorus
Give my feet to the footloose Careless, fancy free Give my knees to the needy Don't pull that stuff on me Hand me down my walking cane It's a sin to tell a lie Send my mouth way down south And kiss my ass goodbye
Repeat Chorus

Please Don’t Bury Me Notes: "That song was originally about this character I had in mind called Tom Brewster. He dies but 7 he wasn't suppose to, like that scene in those old movies. The angels have to send him back, but they can't the way he is. So they send him back as a rooster. Which is why his name is Brewster. I ended up trashing that whole part and came up with this idea of the guy just giving all of his organs away, and I made a whole song out of that. It's the best organ donor campfire song I know of." ~John Prine

It's A Big Old Goofy World
©John Prine
Up in the morning
Work like a dog Is better than sitting Like a bump on a log
Mind all your manners Be quiet as a mouse
Some day you'll own a home That's as big as a house
I know a fella He eats like a horse
Knocks his old balls Round the old golf course
You oughta see his wife She's a cute little dish
She smokes like a chimney And drinks like a fish
There's a big old goofy man Dancing with a big old goofy girl
Ooh baby It's a big old goofy world
Now Elvis had a woman With a head like a rock
I wished I had a woman That made my knees knock
She'd sing like an angel And eat like a bird
And if I wrote a song She'd know ever single word
Kiss a little baby Give the world a smile
If you take an inch Give 'em back a mile
Cause if you lie like a rug And you don't give a damn
You're never gonna be As happy as a clam
So I'm sitting in a hotel Trying to write a song
My head is just as empty As the day is long
Why it's clear as a bell I should have gone to school
I'd be wise as an owl Stead of stubborn as a mule.

It's a Big Old Goofy World notes
"It turns out "goofy" is one of my favorite adjectives. If I think something is funny, or if I feel exasperated, I go, "That's really goofy, I don't get it." I had a guitar player who worked for me for two years, and he was the one who pointed out how many times a day I used the word "goofy." I had no idea. You need other people to tell you these things. So this was an idea I had in my back pocket. I'd ask people if they had any saying that I'd never heard of before, something the family used or something. And people would come up with some real gems. They'd think for half an hour and then whack! They'd jump up like they had the answer to a quiz. I was over in Ireland once, sitting around with four or five friends, and mentioned I was 8 working on this song, that I was looking for similes and explained what a simile was. They all look at me and then go on with their conversation. Half an hour later, one of the girls stands up and goes, "Happy as Larry!" Huh? "It's a phrase - 'He's as happy as Larry,'" I never found out who Larry was, but he must have been a pretty happy guy." ~John Prine

That's the Way that the World Goes 'Round
© John Prine
I know a guy that's got a lot to lose.
He's a pretty nice fellow but he's kind of confused.
He's got muscles in his head that ain't never been used.
Thinks he own half of this town.
Starts drinking heavy, gets a big red nose.
Beats his old lady with a rubber hose,
then he takes her out to dinner and buys her new clothes.
That's the way that the world goes 'round.
That's the way that the world goes 'round.
You're up one day and the next you're down.
It's half an inch of water and you think you're gonna drown.
That's the way that the world goes 'round.
I was sitting in the bathtub counting my toes,
when the radiator broke, water all froze.
I got stuck in the ice without my clothes, naked as the eyes of a clown.
I was crying ice cubes hoping I'd croak,
when the sun come through the window, the ice all broke
I stood up and laughed thought it was a joke
That's the way that the world goes 'round.

John Prine Now
As far as I can see, John Prine is currently living in Nashville with his third wife Fiona Whelan and their three children, stepson JodyWhelan, Tommy and Jack. Unfortunately, his big redbone coonhound was too much for his kids so it was moved 9 away to a farm of friends. Prine and his family like to travel to Ireland (where his wife was from), Europe and Canada. Usually Prine likes to do some relaxing things in his spare time such as fishing, playing dominoes and billiards with his buddies, go to ballgames or just sit and watch the grass grow. When he turned 40, his buddies got him a set of golf clubs and he went out and played a few times. When he finally got the ball in the hole he didn’t fell any need to go onto the next hole.

What Prine Thinks….
“Twinkletoes” as they use to call him on his highschool gymnastics team, obviously has a great sense of humour but also has a serious side. Prine believes that he succeeded because he never thought that he would. Prine never planned on doing this for a living and always believed that “if you’ve never had a big hit, it’s hard to go out of fashion because you were never in fashion. If you had a peak then everybody’s looking to see if you’re up to there. I figured you keep dodging these things and before you know it you’ve been around 50 years. You’ve got no watch of gold but lots of friends.”
Even through his bout with Cancer, John Prine realized that his life has been pretty good and is thankful for his wife, children and the great friends he has made along the way.

All of my information has been taken from the John Prine Shrine. The address on the internet is www.jpshrine.org. Through the web site, I was corresponding with a great lady who was immensely helpful in getting me more information and I could not have done this without her help, Ms. Reeda Buresh. The following sheets are my information that she sent to me as well as other information I used.