When I was seventeen years old, standing alone in the Texas Opry House in Houston, TX, drinking a beer off my brother’s ID (long story), listening to John Prine, I never dreamed that some 35 years later I would be standing in the St. Louis airport talking with him while we waited for our luggage.
I learned “Souvenirs” when I was fourteen, and still play it occasionally around the house on a Saturday morning.
As a teenager, I spent hours dissecting John’s songs, trying to figure out how you make a chorus like “Sam Stone” work, or a love song like “Angel From Montgomery” fall together. Where does that magic come from?
One time, in the late 80’s or early 90’s, on a night off in London, John found out where I was staying and for some reason called me up. We went to dinner or something (neither of us could remember exactly what we did, which is rather telling…). I’ve done shows with him over the years, joined in a scary song swap in his hotel room at some Canadian folk festival with James McMurtry, Sarah McLaughlin and a couple of other people (again, the details are sketchy…there’s a pattern here). Every now and again, I run into him in an airport. I always have to remind him of my name, which I find endearing and don’t take personal. If I was John Prine, I’d probably forget a few names as well. There must be so many. Always, without fail, he is gracious, a gentleman, and funny.
It’s a policy of mine to make sure, when possible, to tell the people who were my guides in songwriting what they did for me. Two days ago, standing there watching the bags go around the carousel, it was a pleasure to do just that.
Thanks again, John.