Written by his brother John Prine with Phil Spector, it’s from the upcoming A Place I Used To Know.
“He was the best brother anybody could ever wish for,” said Billy Prine about his brother John Prine.
John, who was seven years older than Billy and about two feet shorter, would sometimes call him his big little brother.
“When we were kids,” John said, “I used to beat up Billy like any big brother does. But then when he got to be almost seven feet tall, I figured maybe it’s a good time to stop.”
Billy’s a longtime musician-songwriter who has mostly played with rock and blues bands. He’s got a new record coming out this week, produced by songwriter-producer-guitarist Michael Dinallo. It’s called A Place I Used To Know, and is being released on this Friday, July 10, 2020. |
Billy and Michael are also co-hosting a podcast called Prinetime for the American Songwriter Podcast Network.
American Songwriter has a great, poignant interview with Billy soon to be published here, all about his own life, and with rich reflections on both the human and genius aspects of his brother John Prine. In advance of that, we wanted to share some of his new music with you, starting with this video today.
“If You Don’t Want My Love,” which was on John’s 1979 album Steve Goodman-produced Bruised Orange, is an exception even among all of John’s exceptional songs.
John wrote it with the legendary Phil Spector. It was born very late at night at Spector’s mansion, an evening which culminated in a singularly-Spector display of mad bravado, described by Billy in the following.
This video was recorded by Douglas Hudson at Dee’s Country Cocktail Lounge in Madison, Tennessee. Michael Dinallo is on guitar; Dave Jacques, who played in the John Prine band, is on bass, and Justin Amaral is on drums.
Chris Mitchell recorded, mixed, and mastered the sound at Dee’s and Nickelbug Music.
Billy recalled the details of the Prine-Spector parley.
“The writer Robert Hilburn told John that Phil Spector was a fan of his,” Billy said. “So John was invited over to Phil’s original mansion. He goes in, and sees Phil has a Christmas tree set up, though it’s the middle of July.
Phil said, `Every day should be Christmas.’
“John said that after many hours, Phil sat down at the piano and said, `Let’s write a song.’ John grabbed the guitar, and they wrote two songs. They wrote `If You Don’t Want My Love,’ and then `God Only Knows,’ which is John’s last release on The Tree of Forgiveness.
“`If You Don’t Want My Love,’ I always loved; I thought it was just a really nice ballad. There’s a lot of emotion to it. Not a ton of words, but the right ones in the right places. And it was really a pleasure for me to record it. I love the way it turned out. I was really, really pleased with Michael’s production and the players that played on it.
“John told me that after he wrote it, Phil Spector ran into the kitchen, locked all the doors, and started breaking all these dishes and everything. John knocked the door down because he had it locked. Spector had his gun in his hand, pointed it at the ceiling and said, `We just wrote a number one hit, and I’ve got a bullet to prove it!’
“He then shot a hole in the ceiling.”
Billy started playing music young, drawn to blues and rock & roll. He was already playing in bands in and around Chicagoland when he was all of twelve, and from on never stopped. He let music lead him, first to California, where he lived and worked for years. From there he went to Nashville, where his brother John lived for years, and worked for John’s record label Oh Boy, as well as on his own musical projects.
He also curated and produced the “Live from Mountain Stage” radio show, and also was the overnight weekend deejay on Nashville’s Lightning 100 – WRLT100.1FM for a spell.
Their father died when Billy was still a kid. He said John really stepped in, and helped him during that time. More on this and their life together is soon to follow, in our upcoming interview with Billy.