noyoucmon's current selection is:
Lake Marie
by John Prine
John Prine is a national-treasure singer-songwriter from Maywood, Illinois, a suburb in the shadows of O'Hare International Airport. He released his self-titled debut LP in 1971. Before that, he took classes as a teenager at Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music to hone his guitar skills; during Vietnam he served in Germany in the US Army before returning home and working as a mailman. Like R&B legend Bill Withers, who worked on the railroad while doing hobbyist songwriting, Prine continued to write and play when not busy with his day job. Then a regular observer at a local nightclub's open mic, Prine was finally dared to get up and try it himself. Newspaper columnist Roger Ebert happened to be in the audience, was taken by Prine's performance, and published a review of the impromptu set. Nearly 50 years later Prine stands as an elder statesman of folk music, his expansive career providing nearly two dozen albums of homespun Midwestern analysis of the human condition (though he now lives in Nashville).

Prine has survived two bouts of cancer, one of which significantly affected his voice and required speech therapy. He has rebounded to the studio and to the stage, most recently releasing in 2018 his album The Tree of Forgiveness. He maintains a robust touring schedule, and I was fortunate to see him for the first time last weekend after many failed attempts on my part. His main set's closing number was "Lake Marie," a half-spoken story song from his 1995 record Lost Dogs and Mixed Blessings. While Prine is probably best known for his 1970s classics "Hello in There" and "Angel from Montgomery," both from his first album, "Lake Marie" is a fan favorite and contender for Prine's list of best songs. (The merchandise booth last weekend even sold "Greetings from Lake Marie" baseball caps.) I'm posting the studio version, but there are many differing live takes available--solo acoustic, acoustic with accompanists, with full electric bands--and I'd wanted to select one of them but I couldn't narrow down my preference. What I really wish is that I could show you the version I saw him do; toward the song's end Prine took off his guitar, plopped it down, and did a slow, groovy boogaloo off the stage. Prine seems feeble at first glance; he survives, but has been slowed down, and it was a delight seeing him do such a physical stage maneuver at the show's peak.

Literally right as I sat down to type this I received an email from Prine's own Oh Boy Records, perhaps the most charming company to whom you could divulge your personal information. It turns out that just last night he was inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame. Well deserved, Mr. Prine--I'll hoist one to you tonight. I hope I get to see you perform again. And while the lake in the song may seem apocryphal, it's very real; a map consultation tells me that Lake Marie is just 51 miles from my house. I need to get up there and see those peaceful waters.
1995 - Oh Boy
Posted: 14th June 2019
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