For me it was bruise orange. The album was released around the time I started as a radio DJ, and everyone on the station had their favorite cut (mine was Fish And Whistle). Like music fans back then, we delved into the liner notes and soon discovered a whole new world of musicians. Jethro Burns, Sam Bush, Corky Siegel, Steve Goodman (who also produced the record) and others themselves became valued favorites. Background singers included Rambins Jack Elliot and Jackson Browne. For my previously protected ears, the folk music of Joan Baez and Peter, Paul & Mary suddenly exploded into a wide range of mostly acoustic musical styles.
This included the realization that texts were so much more than just a catch that you could sing along with. The mainstream rock & # 39; roll and country musicians who were my mainstay naturally had something to say. And many of them did it very elegantly. (Born To Run, Anyone?) But when Prine sang, "There's a hole in Papa's arm where all the money goes," man … it's like a whole novel in one sentence.
A few years later, I first became acquainted with John's generosity towards other musicians. Prine was on tour and I visited him at a club in Kansas City. The opener was a guitarist / singer who was kicked out of their label and John wanted people to still hear them. It was the first time that I heard Bonnie Raitt and him play Angel From Montgomery. To this day I get goosebumps when I hear this duet, as I was able to do again last autumn at the Americana Music Awards. And then there was the tour I saw him at the Mountain Winery here in California. His opener was the latest addition to his record label, a kid named Todd Snider.
Now John is no longer with us physically. It's hard to type. What we have is a catalog of songs, many of which will continue to be recorded over the next few decades. We also have a world that is much richer here because of John's time. As one of the "syphilitic parasites" John wrote about, I hope one day that I will go to the tree of forgiveness and have a pint of Smithwicks with me.
About the author: I actually drove from Tehatchapee to Tonopah. And I saw Dallas from a DC-9 at night.