I’ve had some great times with John Prine, and this best of captures the music playing during nearly all of them. One or two songs are missing – where’s “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore” or “Sour Grapes,” you spoony compilers? – but as a whole – woo! John Prine has just about exactly two CDs worth of first rate songs, so this format is pretty great if you aren’t into rockabilly filler.
There are a few downsides that I’ll get to. But first, JP is my current relationship’s spirit animal, so I’m quite biased, but when people have what they duende it’s hard to find a problem. He combines it with a great droll sense of humour and generally makes you despair for your own inability to express deep things as simply and humourously as he can. Life changing stuff, but not in a manic pixie dream girl kind of way: this is music your dad’ll like if he’s worth the semen that spawned you. But at the same time mellow and “aw” inducing, at times as cute as a mischievous cat.
So hey. The problem, as a savvy reader could rightly assume from someone who kinda took ten years off in between good songs, is that all the albums need to be represented solidly, except maybe the live one, which contributes only one song. Every other album contributes at least three, including German Afternoons (which contributes “Bad Boy” for fucks’ sake), and the slow, boring, country album “Aimless Love” contributes four, none of which would be the maybe two that I’d include. In fact, the entire second CD is a 6/10 entire, and it steals a couple songs from early albums (the only breaks in otherwise chronological order) in order to shore up its lackluster material. In fact, between the great re-recorded “Souvenirs” (don’t worry, it’s the same song) and “All the Best” there’s ten straight “eh” songs as the sentimentality that he matter-of-factly ignored on great earlier songs like “Sam Stone” and “Hello In There” slowly takes over his musical personality.
But let’s let bygones be bygones. So you had a bad decade. Did I do any better in the 80s? I think not. Thanks for the memories, Mr. Prine.