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Book Review: John Prine - In Spite of Himself

He has kept performing in spite of two battles with cancer, first in his throat, then in a lung. - Reba Rambo-McGuire

I met Prine early on, I was about 20 and he not too much older, at the legenday Riverboat in Toronto. He couldn't believe we had driven up from Buffalo just to see him, and was worried that we didn't have a place to stay on that very cold night (he said we could share his hotel room but didn't think his people would allow it--we had already broken up a conversion under some harsh phlorescent lights he was having with two mafioso-looking dudes, Prine didn't seem to mind). I got the distinct impression that he thought "all this" was just a passing phase (his masterpiece imo "Diamonds In the Rough" was just released and he sang all of it, through both sets he told the manager we were staying for). I got the feeling he still considered himself a mailman at that point. One thing I don't believe this review gets across, as possibily the book doesn't, haven't read it yet, is that Prine is undoubtedly one of the greatest songwriters of our time. While his benefactor Kris Kristofferson really got me interested in modern (literary) country songwriting, imo most of Kris's best were on that first album. Prine made a full career out of it, and yes through cancer and all. Truly an American treasure.

Thanks for sharing that memory, and adding that insight.