It's been five years since singer-songwriter John Prine has released an album of new original material, and three years since his last collection of cover songs. While the award-winning artist has stayed out of the studio, he has not been off the stage. Those performances are featured on a new, live CD, "In Person And On Stage."
John Prine has long been described as a "songwriter's songwriter"; another way of saying he's among the very best. But it's not just songwriters who are fans. Prine was recently honored at the U.S. Library of Congress by U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser. It officially makes Prine "an American treasure."
Over the years, many other great writers have recorded Prine songs, among them Johnny Cash, Bonnie Raitt, John Denver, and Kris Kristofferson. Now, John Prine himself is back with some new recordings of old favorites. "In Person And On Stage" is a good mix of newer songs and classic hits like "Angel From Montgomery," that appeared on Prine's 1971 debut release. It's one of his most-famous songs, and has been recorded by many artists including Bonnie Raitt, Dave Matthews, Ben Harper and John Denver. The new recording features Emmylou Harris singing with Prine.
"In Person And On Stage' is Prine's first record since 2007's collaboration with Mac Wiseman, "Standard Songs For Average People." In 2005, Prine released the hugely-successful "Fair And Square," winning him a Best Contemporary Folk Album Grammy, and Artist of the Year Award at the Americana Music Awards. That CD is where you'll find the original version of "The Glory of True Love." "In Person And On Stage" provides a newer, live version.
Part of the joy of a live John Prine show is hearing him tell the stories behind his songs. "In Person And On Stage" has several good examples of his storytelling. It also includes the first-ever live version of one of his most famous songs, "Paradise," an environmental protest song, written about the coal companies that mined the state of Kentucky, and ravaged the natural landscape. The trio of Kieran Kane, Kevin Welch and Fats Kaplin joined Prine onstage for a take on his classic tune.