Prine show diary:
"It's great to be back at the Old Town School of Folk on Steve Goodman Way"
Terry and I arrived in Chicago at rush hour. I was afraid that the way the people drove in that area was an indication of how they all acted. It was crazy....it was like being in a Wal Mart parking lot in New Jersey...everyone has blinders on and go where they need to go regardless of who or what was in the way. A two lane street miraculously becomes a 5 lane nightmare, who cares about lights and there is even a suicide lane for those suicidals that want to attempt to turn...all made up by those who live there.
Anyway, I am please to say that I am wrong about the people. In the few hours that we had before the show we walked the streets and everyone was friendly. The food was terrific....I would love to go back and just eat my way through Chicago.
Before the show I was able to see my favorite guitar and sound guys - Eric, Eric, and "Crash" errrr sorry, I meant, Greg. They were calm and ready for show number 3 there and it was a beautiful day at dusk. I can't imagine what life would be like to be on the road so much - eating take out and living in hotels ...these guys are the best....their mothers raised them to be perfect gentlemen (or maybe John requires them to be perfect gentlemen) in any case, I do have a lot of respect and admiration for what they do.
The show started with an introduction of give me an "I", gimme and "R", gimme an "I", gimme an "S", and Iris did her show. I'm still unfamiliar with her songs...but am to the point where I can recognize them. My husband says she is an acquired taste...and that he found her tasty. Iris can do more with her voice than an entire chorus of people could attempt. I would love to hear her yodel...because I know she can....she has to be able to... Iris mentioned that she "mainly toured with John because he knew all the great places to eat." (We all promised not to tell him that)
There was a short break and another announcer came out and and talked of Bel Aire Station Wagons (my husband's first car) and how this was an honor to be at the Old Town School of Folk on the anniversary of JFK's death seeing "our old pal" John Prine.
John came out full of piss and vinegar playing Spanish Pipedream....along with David Jacques and Jason Wilber. The crowd cheered and clapped in awe and excitement.
"It's great to be back at the Old Town School of Folk on Steve Goodman Way"
he said with a grin, and followed it up with 'Spend the Night with Me'
(and we did)
He told the story of his beating Throat Cancer and how the MD Anderson Medical Center saved him... followed it with the fitting "Fish and Whistle"
He spoke of his Grandad Prine, who died when John was 7 years old and how he took John everywhere. He first sang his 'Grandpa was a Carpenter' at a Labor Day family reunion in Simple City, Kentucky and his aunts pulled him aside reminded him that "Grandpa didn't smoke Camels...he smoke Kools."
John reminded us that "People write songs for 2 reasons: 1- To remember someone.....and 2: For revenge."
Far From Me
John replied with "I gotta play the songs in alphabetical order so I can remember the words" he smiled and looked up at her.
This was about the time he started to get real raspy talking about Peter Case and Pineapples on the kitchen wallpaper- and how they had this idea for a song about sending monkeys into space and what would happen if they didn't come back and we forgot about them and then they came back and .... he sang Space Monkey without that "dry" sound.
"I just write 'em down and go out and sing 'em and someday there will be a big reward"
Sam Stone (at this point he looked up at his balcony babbler as if to
say, this one is for you, just like you asked) meanwhile the band who had left, joined
John for the end. Iris quietly slipped back on stage and they broke into.....
Paradise - there seemed to be a private joke going on on stage with
Jason and John. Jason plays his solo during this and he and John kept exchanging
glances then they both give each other this "haha I have a secret look"
(wish I knew what they were doing)
By that time it was 11:30PM and most everyone with any sense at all had gone home.. John and his crew were still there along with some leftover party goers for the "Free Street" programs... and 3 Prine diehards with their shirts and albums were still quietly waiting by the elevator door. I wandered the lobby and swore that there was a picture in the lobby that shows John sitting in the school window. We went back to the area by the elevator and watched people who were "somebodies" go in and out of the elevator...often coming out with some signed souvenir and a glow.
Mitch came flying by (as Mitch often does....he is the right hand man, the index finger of John on these tours) You don't try to break his concentration until everything is over....because he is the one who makes sure that it all runs smoothly. He has been dubbed "The hardest working man in the music business" I think they are all hard working.....but Mitch is the most intense when he is working.....and a really nice (and witty) guy when he is not. Anyway, he looked at me and asked if we wanted to see John...and promptly escorted the 5 of us down to John's dressing room, where we waited in little puddles of excitement for the door to open.
Finally we were in and (this is the exciting part) he waved back at me with a smile and
said "Hi Reeda" (okay, so now I get nervous and feel important at the same
time) With my bad bad Lyle Lovett hairdo he recognized me and called me
by name. I waited for the others to finish so Terry and I could have him
alone...(Terry was prompted to grab the camera "and keep clicking")
I whip out my anthology cover which holds all the liner notes to all his cd's
... I see him sigh, and his shoulders drop ...because I think he thinks I want
him to autograph everything.
Pulling out the Anthology booklet I had a chance to ask him about the "Pryne"
spelling on the banner in the back of the book. He grins a little and
says "this girl had come to see me 4 times at the Fifth Peg and she just
really liked my music. She had never seen mys name in print and made me
the banner. The song "Donald and Lydia" really meant something
to her." With a sheepish grin he said "I still have that banner somewhere
in the house" So there you have it all you inquiring minds.
After stealing a few more hugs and kisses....we headed for the door....One more time he offered us something to drink and opened his cooler......and there they were among the juices and cokes and radishes........Orange Crush! I took one and was tickled, came home and sat on the front porch and drank it......blushing. (yeah, I saved the damn can.....and don't want to hear anything more about being a fanatic) Every once in awhile I get caught up in all the excitement of actually meeting a "star" and having him treat me like a neighbor. I really try to be cool...but blow it every time!
One thing I regret....I had heard that Fiona had performed on the weekend shows in a drop dead red halter and black leather jeans...and was terrific. Since I suspect that the Ryman was her first time in front of a Prine crowd, I wished I could have seen her in her "seasoned" self. Fiona...that term "big brass balls" that your husband uses in his song...will always make me think of you! If you think about it folks...this woman has been through a lot too, and deserves a standing O herself!
So that is my story - it just keeps getting better. I do wish him the best....and he deserves this wonderful time that he is enjoying in his life. I would think that he is thinking that he is one of the luckiest men alive.
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