I was a madwoman the morning of March 22 trying to get all my John Prine goodies
together. I had just spent the past week printing out the "Shrine". . . (and
crashing the computer with my lovely Netscape editor) the amount of paper that pumped out
of that web page was overwhelming. I sincerely thought that if I could get it to John
Prine, he would appreciate all the notes and letters from his fans. That it may inspire
him to someday get his grand old self online too. With my Lost Dogs T-shirt, the Shrine,
Kathy47's Rolling Stones scarf, Mungo's vintage pics and of course -Terry (that's the Mr.)
we were off to Peoria. The ride was spent scribbling little notes here and there
throughout the Shrine's pages, I thought I needed to explain why some things were colored
(the links), who some of the people were that had messages in and I just needed to keep
busy while I plotted a plan to get the Shrine to the Wise Wordsters hands.
arrived in Peoria at the downtown Holiday Inn, where we were to meet
WOG ... my chat room Prine-guru. He was not there ... I figured that
maybe something (more important? Hah what could be more important
than a Prine concert?) came up with his work or ...or maybe he thought
I was one of those internet weirdos you read about in Dear Abby and
decided it would be safer to see us at the concert. So hubby and I
went back to our hotel, cleaned ourselves up and decided to bum around
downtown Peoria, find the Madison Theater and enjoy our childlessness.
We found a street corner behind the Madison Theater and parked. Terry
noticed a man getting out of a sort of red T-bird at the adjacent
corner and mentioned that didn't WOG drive a red t-bird? What the
hell, "Hey Jerry"... I yell ,causing the silver haired guy
to spin around and start toward us ... I (still not sure it is he
or just some other weirdo) holler across the four lanes ... "Do
you own a computer?" The silver haired guy looks kind of
dumbfounded and shakes his head with a chuckle ... "Hmmm,"
(thinks I, what did that mean?) still I am curious :"What's your
online name?" The silver haired stranger (and getting stranger
still) is now playing with my one brain cell and we are about three
feet apart ..."Ah PMS ... of course it's me." ... and the
adrenaline began to percolate in me...
Now, I don't know how often people have met in real
life the people that they have been talking with on the computer for
months but it was a first for me. It was like knowing someone for
a long time ... but not really ... it felt comfortable in an anxious
sort of way. WOG walked us into the Madison theater and they promptly
told us we couldn't come in ... I tried to be a name dropper (knowing
in reality how very uncool that is) and well have you heard the story
about the lead balloon?
I should mention that the bars, restaurants, street corners and hotels are all brimming
with parents and their basketball playing kids. This is also the weekend that Illinois is
holding their Basketball championships just a block away. The downtown area is alive. We
wandered into a bar called SOP (same old place) and it was packed with regulars and Sports
fans, except for a 6-top (oops that's restaurant talk for a table for 6) where 3 handsome
40-ish aged men were seated at the far end ... "Do you mind? "as we
started to seat ourselves... they didn't mind. Guess what ... these guys were avid
Prine fans too ... going to the concert no less. One was a cop, one was in a cap (trying
to retire) and the other was a carpenter. Just in case they see this ... (Glenn or was
it Mike ... you know where I am ... I'm waiting for that Peoria Starr....) 2 of them
(Lenny and Mike) were going to be related by marriage to twin psychologist sisters)
... but I guess that that is getting off on a tangent to my story. My adrenaline meter is
hitting the "better tie her down" zone as I whipped out the "Shrine"
(and my glasses) and the Cap began to read (looked just darling in my glasses too)
... he was fascinated with what all you fans have written ... I was getting inspired.... We
all conversed ... took pictures, drank a few beers and Pepsi's ... ate ...and shared
forks (don't tell mama).
Wog was sitting at the end of the table in his red "Alpo" hat
figured that was because being such a loyal Prinester that it was to help him find
having scoped out the neighborhood earlier in the day, led us into
another bar on the next corner and showed me a stack of flyers for
the concert (that's what's at the top of the page ... ain't the Mr.
talented?).... told me to pick up a few ... so I did ... he looked
at me like I didn't understand.... he meant a few hundred.... I picked
up about 50 more. He proceeded to show us the Madison theater notice
on the door ... and he pulled it off the door for a better view, then
forgot to put it back. The man was on a mission also ... He was going
to make darned sure that I went home with a bag full of memorabilia
and a head full of memories.
I giggled at this all ... the adrenaline is about to just come gushing out of my
eyeballs as we enter the doorway to the Madison. Inside there is the Cop, the Carpenter
and the Cap ... feeling pretty darn good by now and we're all acting like friends
forever. Terry ushered me over to the T-shirts and we picked up the
"Live on Tour/Oh Boy" in Prine black. Again, I try to drop a few names and again
am dazed at with potato eyes.
The usher showed us our seats. What a let down, Terry
is mumbling something nasty about Ticketmaster. The venue was small
and cozy but our seats were about 5 away from the back wall and the
sound technicians, I wasn't going to sit that far back. I was a woman
on a Mission!! I went back to the ticket counter and tried to
exchange our tickets for the great seats in the front, in the folding
chairs (where the mosh pit was the previous night). Nope ...
not even if I palmed them an extra $20. Harumph. So we did the
next best thing. Hubby and I went down and sat next
to WOG who was in the 10th row from Prine himself. (Wog, who seems
to know the poop on everything said not too worry ... there would
be seats up front ... just act like I belonged in one of them) We
got bumped to the 9th row and then scooted over and nobody else claimed
the seats. The lights dimmed ... and I wondered if maybe I should
have purchased some Depends....
RB Morris came on, quiet like, and started singing and strumming his guitar. I truly
loved his voice. He can do that little yodel thing with his voice. He sings great and
seemed a little bit relaxed with the crowd. The Peoria crowd was awesome. They were all a
bunch of real nice people and gave RB a chance. No rudeness, no yelling to get off the
stage. They listened and enjoyed this new man opening for the great Prine. I think I am
going to place and order with Oh Boy for the guy's cd.... if he has a cd ... he seemed
to enjoy us too and by the time he was to his last few songs he seemed to be having fun
with the whole thing. You gotta admit ... opening for John Prine, has got to be pretty
hard ... especially with an impatient crowd.
Alrighty then, if you have read this far then you have
made it to the really good part. John came out on stage in all his
blackness. ..grinning from ear to ear and looking ready for a good
time. After the screaming and cheering subsided we could hear him
breaking into Spanish Pipedream ... (well, I think it was Spanish
Pipedream) ... Okay this is where you'll have to read what Jerry Briggs
has to say cause he and his mag light took notes on songs and their
order and all that. I couldn't sit I was suffering from a severe adrenaline
overload. I found a spot to stand closer to the stage ... and
a much better view in between a guy who was playing a harmonica
... and a guy who was singing the bassest bass I had ever heard.
I could see John just having a grand old time. He's up there looking
like he's tickled to death at the crowd ... from my spot
you could hear the crowd singing along with every tune ... I mean
loudly ... John noticed this too ... there was no getting away from
it. He seemed to be proud and kind of awed at it all. He also seemed
to be reassuring his two back ups ... they kind of reminded me of
Prine Bookends ... David Jacques and Jason Wilbur both with long ponytails,
young, and dressed in dark suits. The interaction, to me, between
those three was sort of like The patient master and his two students
... it was kind of fatherly. I don't know, I was watching the eye
contact ... it was ...well to not sound too god-awfully corny ...
it was heartwarming.
They went through the paces ... sang their songs
... I gave a standing ovation for
every tune as did many others. and He came back for 3 encores ... I didn't want him to
leave ... I kept shouting "Play 'em all" (cause I can't have just one)
... was really hoping he would would feed us his entire bag of chips. On the last encore RB Morris and some other guy
joined in ... what screaming fun . . The lights come up, the crowd pauses, we're all
thinking that maybe, just maybe, he'll come out again... after all ... bics were
bicking, whistlers were still whistling ... and dammit we'd been good. (sniff) As
always ... all good things must come to an end.
Nay ... this is where I think it gets even better. Terry,
Wog, and I wait ... we
nudge toward the stage acting like we belong there (as do a hundred
or so others) I look for a man that has been told to me holds my name
to see John backstage. I find the guy ... I drop a few names
and ask when will I get to go backstage to see John. Again, I get
this mashed potato look ... he snorts ... (I check to see if my zipper
is down) ... he kind of shakes and points behind the curtain and replies
"there isn't any backstage"... There wasn't, just a door
that led to the parking lot. Hah! that doesn't stop a woman on a mission
and her two cohorts. We just hung, and hung, and hung around. Someone
said John was out back eating ...(I secretly knew that it was meatloaf)
even if everyone else thought it was ribs.
FINALLY ... he appears from behind the curtain and places
himself under a dimly lit exit sign at the official autograph signing
table. Somehow we have found ourselves at the back of the line, where
I wanted to be ... as it was not like Disneyland where being in the
front of the line and hurrying is the best way to be.
I was going to take up his time ... I was going to do it ... (sheez,
what if the meal he just had made him sick right as I approach the
table?) A few of the fans run out and get their guitars and
break into a song ... one of them is my bass voice that stood behind
me during the concert. It was better than the best roller coaster
ride ... all these people hovering over John trying to get a glimpse,
a piece of him and singing to him. The cameras were flashing, one
by one each Prinester would leave with a smile, a token ... and a
memory. The line is moving ... I can see him ... THEN ... AAAUUUUGGHHHHH
it's my turn ... WOG and Terry step back into Kodak memory taking
position and I quiver.
"ooh it's my turn now" I really don't know if he responded,
I just kind of looked at his face and remember how kind and wise I
thought it looked. He oozed of one that had a very old soul. I placed
his Shrine before him and taking his hand in mine said, "I really
haven't come for anything from you ... but I do have something for
you." he looked rather pleased and kind of surprised. Then (I
really wish I had a Depends) I went rambling on pointing out the different
sections of the Shrine, explaining the Chat room, Message Board, Letters,
Poems, and Pictures. I told of Lars in Norway and Marc Marnie
in the UK, of the friends I made that were some of his greatest fans
. . . I rambled a little about Bear, MA, Jimmy, Kathy47, GQ,
mannie (aka Space Monkey) and Mungo. I flipped pages, I talked fast,
I marveled at his cute little size 8 looking feet in shiny black cowboy
boots (they looked new and maybe a tad bit uncomfortable). He nodded,
he smiled, he seemed to hang on my words ... he seemed genuinely appreciative.
That's when I realized that the few still waiting to see him were
looking a bit impatient and I knew that John had a tour to finish....
I ended with "enough about you, let's talk about me ...
and I proceeded to show him my
"Life in the Big Couch" and the little bit that said who
I was. I added my meatloaf from Hell recipe and promised to make it
for him with real mashed potatoes if he ever showed up in Davenport
again. He seemed to think that maybe he would pass through at the
end of his tour ... hmmmm...maybe for a concert, or does the man really
have such a meatloaf hankering that he would stop by my house for
a little of my hell? Then I broke down and whipped out my liner of
his self-titled CD ... the one with him on the haystack and
he signed it for me ... "To Reeda, Thanks for everything,
John Prine" ... At this point my adrenaline is just dripping
all over the table spilling in great gobs to the floor ... "I
just gotta kiss you" I whisper, and he leans in and lets
me. He had such a soft as a baby's butt cheek ... no, I didn't kiss
his butt cheek, his left facial cheek was as soft as a baby's butt
and he smelled so sweet. Did WOG and Terry get that pic? ...
No ... they were standing back watching and discussing whether
or not they were going to have to pry me off this guy..... That's
when John had this little smirk on his face and asked me to settle
an argument between him and Jason. He called Jason over to the table
and quizzes .."What four cities make up the Quad Cities?"
...and I answer Davenport, Rock Island, Moline and East Moline"
John and Jason exchange grins and John had obviously won an argument
the two had had on the subject earlier. I sort of step back to let
others have their turn ... but not back far enough to exit his aura
that is sort of glowing all around him.
story is really dragging on isn't it?
WOG gets up and talks with John about stuff
... they sounded like old friends. It was
obvious to me that John had recognized WOG. When John first arrived to come out and sign
autographs, he gave WOG this knowing glance and said "How ya' doin'?"
chatted about things that I couldn't hear, as I was in such a stupor and starting to come
back down to Earth. It was almost over, and I didn't wanna go. WOG finished with John and
went over to R B Morris, Jason, and David and started discussing playlists, and music
... the Wise Old Geezer had these young guys interested ... meanwhile everyone else is
gone, John is
standing and ready to go ... he takes the "Shrine" and tucks it under his arm
and we are asked nicely to leave.
a little bit more now ... We say good-bye to them all again ... feeling
all special and gushy inside ...and leave the beautiful old Madison
Theater. Terry, Wog and I aren't really sure what we want to do, so
we walk around the block chirping about the concert and what had just
transpired. ..as we round the alley way behind the Madison , I eye
Mitch and Jason and John getting into a car. I spastically point them
out ... and the fact that John has the "Shrine" still tucked
under his arm!! Terry yells ... "Hey John?" John looks back
and Terry continues, "You really need to get to reading on the
Shrine there" ... John nods to Terry, waves, and gets into the
back seat of the car. Double and Triple WOW!!
And that's it. The three of us decide that we are not
in a mood to go out partying anymore (are we really getting that grown-up?).
The party was over ... and has created such a fantastic memory that
nothing could improve on the feeling. we say our good-byes ... and
roll on down the road.
for the rest of the evening I would replay our little conversation in my head and sort
of sing at very odd or quiet moments: "I kissed John Prine", "I touched
John Prine", and "I met John Prine"... .
As far as my little brain cell is concerned
... this is only the beginning ... thanks for hanging on and listening...
PMS*red aka Reeda