Remembering John Prine: 7 essential albums

Seven albums you should check out very soon.
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After Storm Windows in 1980, John Prine made his boldest career move. He founded his own label – Oh Boy – and began releasing his own material. Eventually, he would find and develop other young artists. Forty years later, Oh Boy is still putting out new music. But back in 1984, this is how Prine opened his newest venture:

“I threw a party, nobody came
I bought all the tickets, they cancelled the game
I gave you my picture, it didn't fit your frame
Be my friend tonight."

Aimless Love, as the title implies, begins with a series of songs about loners, losers, and small fries stumbling through life and romance. They are all told with John’s signature sympathetic humor. About midway through, he shifts into “Blood on the Tracks”-era Dylan with "Maureen, Maureen” and “Somewhere, Someone’s Falling in Love.”

Then, as he approaches the end, he delivers a monumental one-two punch. “People Putting People Down”,’ the last song John ever did with Steve Goodman (who would pass away from leukemia the following year), is a tender yet brutal takedown of the meanness in the world. He follows it with the devastating quiet of “Unwed Fathers,” with vocal support from his second wife and former bass player, Rachel Peers-Prine.

And in the middle of it all, as if to remind us not to take it too seriously, he drops in another hummable story about a family vacation gone wrong. “The Bottomless Lake,” which used to be a concert favorite, remains my favorite guilty Prine pleasure.

“We’re falling down
Down to the bottom of a hole in the ground
Smoke 'em if you got 'em
I'm so scared I can hardly breathe
I may never see my sweetheart again."