The Wit and Rhyme of John Prine

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“He’s got muscles in his head he’s never even used.”  John Prine

An artist I never hear of in the mainstream conscience is John Prine, but as a young man I found his song lyrics full of wit and the vigor of life.  His unique perceptions were so well written into verse.  I suppose his Dylanesque voice was a handicap to mainstream popularity and longevity, but as a lyricist, I would listen to him any day over having to endure that mainstream fluff called pop music.  

I wanted to take the time to share a couple of his song lyrics in this post.

So, if you have never heard or delved into his work, take a moment to bathe in the blessing of wit.

 

SamStone

Sam Stone came home,

To the wife and family

After serving in the conflict overseas.

And the time that he served,

Had shattered all his nerves,

And left a little shrapnel in his knees.

But the morhpine eased the pain,

And the grass grew round his brain,

And gave him all the confidence he lacked,

With a purple heart and a monkey on his back.

 

There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes,

Jesus Christ died for nothin I suppose.

Little pitchers have big ears,

Don’t stop to count the years,

Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios.

 

Sam Stone’s welcome home

Didn’t last too long.

He went to work when he’d spent his last dime

And soon he took to stealing

When he got that empty feeling

For a hundred dollar habit without overtime.

And the gold roared through his veins

Like a thousand railroad trains,

And eased his mind in the hours that he chose,

While the kids ran around wearin’ other peoples’ clothes…

 

There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes,

Jesus Christ died for nothin I suppose.

Little pitchers have big ears,

Don’t stop to count the years,

Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios.

 

Sam Stone was alone

When he popped his last balloon,

Climbing walls while sitting in a chair.

Well, he played his last request,

While the room smelled just like death,

With an overdose hovering in the air.

But life had lost it’s fun,

There was nothing to be done,

But trade his house that he bought on the GI bill,

For a flag-draped casket on a local hero’s hill.

 

There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all they money goes,

Jesus Christ died for nothin I suppose.

Little pitchers have big ears,

Don’t stop to count the years,

Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios.

 

Songwriters:  John Prine

 

   Hello in there

We had an apartment in the city

Me and Loretta liked living there

Well, it’d been years since the kids had grown

A life of their own left us alone

John and Linda live in Omaha

And Joe is somewhere on the road

We lost Davy in the Korean war

And I still don’t know what for, don’t matter anymore

 

Ya’ know that old trees just grow stronger

And old rivers grow wilder ev’ry day

Old people just grow lonesome

Waiting for someone to say, “Hello in there, hello”

 

Me and Loretta, we don’t talk much more

She sits and stares through the back door screen

And all the news just repeats itself

Like some forgotten dream that we’ve both seen

Someday I’ll go and call up Rudy

We worked together at the factory

But what could I say if he asks “What’s new?”

“Nothing, what’s with you? Nothing much to do”

 

So if you’re walking down the street sometime

And spot some hollow ancient eyes

Please don’t just pass ’em by and stare

As if you didn’t care, say, “Hello in there, hello”

 

Songwriters: John Prine

Hello in There lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

 

 

Paradise

When I was a child my family would travel

Down to Western Kentucky where my parents were born

And there’s a backwards old town that’s often remembered

So many times that my memories are worn

 

And daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County

Down by the Green River where Paradise lay

Well, I’m sorry my son, but you’re too late in asking

Mister Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away

 

Well, sometimes we’d travel right down the Green River

To the abandoned old prison down by Airdrie Hill

Where the air smelled like snakes and we’d shoot with our pistols

But empty pop bottles was all we would kill

 

And daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County

Down by the Green River where Paradise lay

Well, I’m sorry my son, but you’re too late in asking

Mr. Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away

 

Then the coal company came with the world’s largest shovel

And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land

Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken

Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man

 

And daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County

Down by the Green River where Paradise lay

Well, I’m sorry my son, but you’re too late in asking

Mr. Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away

 

When I die let my ashes float down the Green River

Let my soul roll on up to the Rochester dam

I’ll be halfway to Heaven with Paradise waitin’

Just five miles away from wherever I am

 

Songwriters: John Prine

 

After once again listening to Sam Stone, I just want to reference my deep concerns for the opioid medications that are produced and administered to patients.  I found them to be much inferior to the non narcotic pain killer I received in the ER prior to being admitted to the hospital.  It was the most effective for the pain, lasted the longest and caused the least effects outside of that purpose.  The opioid crisis can and should be curtailed through the promotion and use of such superior pain killers.

My upcoming book “THE GOLDEN STALLION” is a middle school fiction book about the tribulations of Jeepers Creepers, a young fellow faced with the opioid temptations and allures of Doofus, The Rat.   It is presented simply as a young persons story to illustrate the misconceptions and addictive choices surrounding these drugs.   If you care about helping solve the opioid problem, please order an advanced copy of this book.  You can do so by contacting me personally at maryandrichard@quickturtlebooks.com.  I think you will be very grateful to receive and have it for your children and grandchildren.

 

Boris Stallion Cover 1537

Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Books®

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2 thoughts on “The Wit and Rhyme of John Prine

  1. Rachel Hutcheson August 31, 2018 / 1:31 pm

    Yes, love this! John Prine is brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

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