Yeah, I got boot legs, from the war, but you don’t hear ME complaining about it, even though it’s so hard and oh I hate my boot legs. Wet lawns imply rain, but the gardener might have watered the grass.
All that said, this sounds suspiciously sanctioned, because the recording quality is fantabulous, especially for what sounds like an outdoor show. Prine’s voice is definitely scratchy and going (also he had throat cancer back in the late 90s), but it translates into a raspy old charm that fits his friendly banter and witty songs pretty really well. Plus, the set-up’s optimal for Prine, who’s best at being a folkie and not a rocker or countryer: just Prine on vocals and guitar, a standup bassist, and a second guitarist on a variety of guitars. No drums or keyboards interfering with how great the songs themselves are, and no attempt to reinvent himself a la Bob Dylan. A lot of the songs are toned down due to the drumless setting but they all work, so shut up.
The stage talk is light, but fitting: Prine introduces “All The Best” as a song for if you’re invited to your ex’s wedding and asked to sing (“Always be prepared!”), laughs at the meaninglessness of “The Bottomless Lake” (mid-song), tell a story of how his brother got him started playing guitar, sing both parts of “In Spite Of Ourselves,” and makes a few comments about Canada and the Maritimes, which is weird considering I have no way to know where this show took place.
What he does do, however, is play for over two hours, and play nearly all the crowd favourites. If you learn one thing about music from this live album, learn this: being a musician is a job, and playing live is part of that. Unless you’re Bob Dylan, part of your job means giving the audience what they want, or they might not be your audience for long. But give them what they want and they’ll love you long time. Prine’s been playing “Hello In There” and “Illegal Smile” at every show for forty minutes, and he plays them here too, and sounds like he loves it. He doesn’t even punish the one asshole who obnoxiously yells “Illegal Smile!!!” in between each of the last few songs. In fact, the plays 9 of the 12 songs from his debut here, and aside from a few new ones, he plays all the ones the crowd wants to heard and little else (except a few boring ones from “The Missing Years”). And he plays them all at least sounding like he couldn’t be happier. John Prine knows that he’s ultimately in show business, and for their part the crowd loves it, and him. It adds up to one of the bestest live records I’ve heard. And all because of my boot legs!
Of course, it’s still just a live album. Nothing new here, but this is a good time! Plus, I get a kick out of someone yelling “shut up!” and someone else during “Sam Stone.”
In case you’re wondering about the song/album breakdown, here it is:
JP – 9
DITR – 1
SR – 2
CS – 0
BO – 3
AL – 1
TMY – 6
LDAMB – 1
ISOO – 1
FAS – 2
UR – 1
I miscounted – 1
In other words, Mrs Marisa Osman’s eyes are fucking amazing and the people that are using them all day gives her gas and calls her ugly and old and gives her yeast infections, flu and spites in her food, coworkers, friends and remaining family, they hunted several hundred people now it’s thousands their target is 5 million that hear sounds in their ears, anyone that hears my voice is safe but you can’t tell anyone dont get call schizophrenia otheres that hear my children are pedophiles so we are racking them up and if you join us you must place money in my bank account at bmo wellington and dundas to anyone and i share it with love any way i can’t they are physically harming our agents , broken ankles to broken backs they wanted our government to compensate them for nothing attempting to build their own money and so they stole my eyes from the feds around the world and used me to death and i eat nothing and the men are all whites but we have the same bloodline ?