Remembering John Prine: 7 essential albums

Seven albums you should check out very soon.
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John Prine had not released an album of original music in ten years before Fair and Square appeared (quite a long stretch for such a prolific songwriter). He opens it with a four-song stretch that rivals his best work. The creole-flavored “Glory of True Love” moves into the razor-sharp lyrics of “Crazy as a Loon.” Then the lovely duet with Mindy Smith, “Long Monday,” whose opening lyrics begin this essay, gives way to the lazy ramble of “Taking a Walk.”  

A few of the tracks in the middle fall off just a bit. By the time he gets to a Blaze Foley composition, “Clay Pigeons” - the best song by another writer John ever recorded - he is back in full swing, however.

The live version of “Other Side of Town” toward the end shows John has lost none of his sharp humor when it comes to the battle of the sexes. He concludes with another talking song that follows the pattern of “Jesus, the Missing Years,” entitled “Safety Joe.” Though this is a little more mean-spirited toward his subject than John’s typical tale of the downtrodden, listening to him crack himself up at the end makes it all OK.