“The Emergence of John Prine” A Radio Documentary by Paul Ingles

A beautiful & compelling celebration of the life and songs of John Prine, in the words of those who knew and loved him, created prior to Prine’s death.

The Emergence of John Prine is a wonderfully rich, reverent and compelling radio celebration of John Prine’s life and legacy directed by Paul Ingles. Paul is a man with a great love of song and the songwriters who write them, a love which is woven through all the shows he made for this series. In addition to Prine, he’s created great shows celebrating other great songwriters, including James Taylor, Rolling Stones, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon and more.

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Listen to “The Emergence of John Prine” by Paul Ingles on PRX.

I’ve been invited as a contributor to his musical party more than once, which is an honor and also a lot of fun, as Paul is an artist gifted at getting people to open up about the impact of songs in their lives, and to articulate often abstract ideas. He does serious research, but with joy, as he authentically loves this music. His passion is infectious, as demonstrated by his thoughtful, insightful queries.

Paul Ingles.

Gently coaxing substantial answers by posing serious questions, he then takes all that spoken content and edits it with the skill of a great film editor, beautifully cutting with great musicality to the rhythms of the included songs.

The result is a delightfully compelling audio documentary of great moment and momentum. Like the others he’s done, once they start it is tough not not listen all the way through, as Paul structures them with wise care.

Besides music writers, Paul also turns to songwriters, musicians and others who know of what they speak. For this one on Prine, in addition to this writer, he spoke to Bonnie Raitt, Peter Case, Sara Watkins, Mark Kemp, Beverly Keel, Peter Case, Peter Cooper and two great music writers who have contributed to American Songwriter, Holly Gleason and John Kruth. 

There are also archival recordings of John Prine through the years, and a great portion of an interview with Prine by another beloved Chicago legend, Studs Terkel.

He’s also an unusually gracious guy, who always offers great gratitude to those who take the time to participate, although he’s the one deserving of most of the credit. But he does what he does with rare kindness. I did extensive talks on Prine and also James Taylor for two shows, always fun for me, recorded at the end of 2019. Weeks later I got a phone message from him that was so specifically considerate I kept it. He offered thanks to me for taking the time, and said he especially appreciated my answers, as there were no extraneous, unrelated parts, which made his editing job much easier.

As a writer who daily works to express the history and the greatness of songwriters with words, as well as someone who edits often the writing of others which do require much revision, that meant a lot to me. Nobody insists on the use of thoughtful kindness in any work, but in this songwriting realm it’s appropriate; we’re dealing with work of the heart, written by seriously sensitive artists who are often exceptionally kind souls, as was Prine. Real-time reverence is required through all stages of this enterprise, yet it’s rare. To him it seems to come naturally.

Paul Ingles is the founder of the non-profit media company Good Radio Shows, Inc. in 2003 to produce programs that inform, inspire and improve the human condition, principally the PEACE TALKS RADIO series on peacemaking and nonviolent conflict resolution.

He’s been in broadcasting since 1975 and has experience as a producer, news and sports reporter, recording engineer, editor, on-air personality, trainer and manager. He’s worked at radio and television stations in North Carolina, Washington, DC, Ohio and New Mexico. More recently, as an independent radio producer, he has filed reports for NPR news magazines and NPR newscasts as well as numerous other public radio programs including Justice Talking, On The Media, Living on Earth, The Splendid Table, National Native News, The Looseleaf Book Company, Beyond Computers, and Pacifica Network News.

His newspaper writing was often featured in The Albuquerque Tribune. He has produced radio programs on music, popular culture, literature, media literacy and other topics that have been distributed either by NPR or independently to public radio stations around the world. He is best known for his in-depth programs on Beatles history and music specials on other artists like Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and many more. His other programs include “Local Broadcast News and Local Democracy,” “A Celebration of Southwest Storytellers,” “A Holiday Folk Tour with Judy Collins” and “The Open Mic Folk Series.” Paul is president of both Good Radio Shows, Inc. and Cedar Creek Studios, Inc.

Listen to “The Emergence of John Prine” by Paul Ingles on PRX.

For more on Paul Ingles, his movies and other radio shows, this is the place.

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