Once upon a time there was a boring album. It wasn’t a bad album, it was just a boring album. Not much happened on this album. It was by a guy who used to be very, very interesting, but now wasn’t very interesting anymore. Where the man used to make meaningful songs but now just made old man music.
Spoiler: it’s this album! I mean, I like to consider certain factors when I listen to and review any album. Questions like: what is this album? What’s this supposed to mean? What is this meant to evoke? Who would write something like this? Who is this meant to appeal to? What listener would sing these songs aloud? Here the answers are all the ramblings of a retired man talking about his childhood like Abe Simpson droning on and on like I didn’t have to call my Dad.
Seriously, there’s one song where he goes on about being “bad boy again” like 10,000 times in the least bad-boy way possible. Other classic song topics include wanting to dance with his wife, and a few other things that nobody would ever care about unless they’re dedicated to rotting slowly thinking Jimmy Buffett is too controversial. This is bullshit, nobody cares, this guy is from America and who gives a shit? Not I, not about how he used to put nickels in jukeboxes to hear quiet music and sip an iced tea. This is teetotalers’ music.
Maybe, just maybe, I can try to find a way to justify this. Maybe, in the midst of Reagan’s second term, John Prine needed to escape to a simpler time, off in the countryside, and think of the good things and relax with his modest but sufficient royalties. Seriously, to call this album inconsequential would be an insult to a drop of oil in a deep fryer. This album looks at me ordering Free Trade coffee and thinks “wow, that’s an impressive and brave statement.”
And the shit of this all is that I love John Prine and like bluegrass/country. The struggles we face in our lives bonds, they do not grant us freedom. I know full well that associating music with an alphanumeric designation speaks volumes about the other neglected areas of my life, and I regret this. But like every other stooped, stunted slave to his endocrine system, I have hope and sadness and anything anything anything that this album does nothing to provide or speak to. This album is a maladaption, and I can play Feist at my dinner parties. No! No! No! Please don’t hit me again, John Prine.
But he does, because the last track is a cover of his own “Paradise,” from his very first album, and it’s both a) the most interesting song on the album, and b) a sad admission that his best days are far behind him. Wale up, Prineypants! It’s only nine! Oh, he’s nodded off into his Bud Light again. Crazy ol’ Prineypants.