John Prine – Sessions At West 54th

Here come the live albums! Say, did you know that John Prine is a funny guy? It’s true, he is! His friendly existential humour is always zip zopping around when he’s playing live. Say, did you know that “In Spite Of Ourselves” was written for a silly movie? It’s true! The movie starred Billy Bob Thornton. Good ol’ grumpy Billy Bob! He made waves in Canada for saying something silly about Canadian fans because a silly radio host asked him about being famous when he had asked not to be asked about being famous (he was in town to play for a band that nobody would have cared about had the frontman not been Blow Job Thornton). Prine tells a funny story about that! Aw, he sounds like such a swell guy. The corridors of success have famous walls. Being good at stuff sounds like it’d be fun. I’ll just sit here drinking whiskey and criticizing.

You know what else? Our Prine-Stocker collaborative effort has created enough great songs that the two of us never need write another one to produce a great live show. This here album has a couple flubs (overly rockabilly versions of old songs) and one meh duet, but the rest is a true statement of the amazing art that either Prine or Myles has made.

Prine whips through about an equal number new and old songs, including a few duets, a ten-minute “Lake Marie,” and the greatest call-your-dad-before-he-dies Steve Goodman cover “My Old Man.” Christ, did that one make me misty-eyed. “I miss my old man tonight / And I can almost see his face / He was always trying to watch his weight / And his heart only made it to fifty-eight / And for the first time since he died / Late last night I cried / I was wondering when I was gonna do that / For my old man” – JESUS CHRIST GUYS STOP IT.

I’m getting a bit tired of hearing “Hello In There” and “Sam Stone,” but that happens after three weeks of listening to John Prine every day. Plus, you get a few interviews with Prineypants that show off his humour and lovable charm. He’s a friendly-sounding everyman, except for the songwriting talent. The only unfriendly moment is the “The blind can take both of my eyes if they don’t mind the size…BUT IF THEY DO THEN FUCK ‘EM” during the last chorus of “Please Don’t Bury Me,” which was a bit out of character. But he makes up for it by laughing it off and playing another ten minutes of “Lake Marie,” so it’s all good. Good show, good show, move along.

8/10

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