Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Discovering Prine

After reading about the strange-but-true Roger Ebert-Sex Pistols connection, I shouldn't have been surprised to learn that Ebert is responsible for another footnote in music history: he wrote the first review John Prine ever received.  Though his beat was movies, Ebert broke the story on the emergence of one of the Great American Songwriters.  His post about it is several months old, but I just came across it a few days ago.  It contains the original review, which came so early in Prine's career that he seemed not to have settled on final titles for some of what would become his most famous songs ("Sam Stone", for example, was apparently called "The Great Society Conflict Veteran's Blues"!).

I've had the pleasure of being bowled over by some brilliant performances that I was in no way prepared for, but I'm trying to imagine what it would be like to walk into a club with no expectations and hear "Sam Stone" for the first time.  And then "Angel From Montgomery".
Bonus Links
Swamp Dogg's cover of "Sam Stone" (if it's possible for a knife to the gut to be transcendent, then that's what this is)
Susan Cowsill and Brian Henneman doing "Angel From Montgomery"

Bonus Commentary
Armond White's recent comments about Ebert ("I think he does not have the training.  I've got the training" "I'm a pedigreed film critic") remind me of the old, intermittently funny syndicated public radio character, Dr. Science, whose catchphrase was "I have a Masters science!"  I've never thought about this before, but I wonder if Dr. Science was an inspiration for noted public radio fan John Hodgman's "expert" persona.

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