John Prine: The Guy You Hope He Is

“The hardest thing was to accept the compliments, to go from nothing to ‘You’re a genius.’”

[caption id="attachment_207516" align="aligncenter" width="900"] Photos by Danny Clinch[/caption] Four guitars, ten boxes of unfinished lyrics, and one heralded songwriter holed up last year at the Omni Hotel in downtown Nashville. “The house detective was probably keeping an eye on me,” says the songwriter, John Prine, who was attempting to complete his first album of original material since Taylor Swift was 15 years old. One of those lyric sheets had a cryptic second verse ... something about a wooden crutch talking to a busted tooth. Prine is big on personification — in one of his latest songs, the Vulcan statue in Birmingham pines for his lost love while being flustered into indifference by the bumblebees that swarm his head — but this crutch/tooth thing wasn’t working. “I used to think I knew what I was doing, 40 years ago, but now I have no idea how it works,” he thought, pondering a writing process that has brought him Grammy trophies, a PEN Songwriter Award, four Cadillacs in the driveway, and respect and admiration from Bob Dylan, Jason Isbell, Stephen King, Bonnie Raitt, Roger Waters, and most anyone else with two ears and a cracked heart. At the moment, though, that writing…

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