Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The John Prine connection

Sometimes on a day when I'm out-of-sorts or blue, a John Prine song will start playing on my Pandora folk station and turn my attitude, and my day, around.  The man is a lyrical genius, and some of his light-hearted songs leave me smiling for hours after I've heard them, songs like "Spanish Pipedream" or "Illegal Smile" (which he says was not about smoking pot).  Others of his songs leave me almost teary-eyed:  "Sam Stone" and "Hello in There".  That last number also tends to leave me riddled with guilt.

I heard his name mentioned in the '70's.  Kris Kristofferson subtitled his song "Jesus Was a Capricorn" as "Ode to John Prine", so I'd listen to that and wonder who in the heck that was (no internet, no Google, back then).  But I didn't discover him until perhaps fifteen years ago, and then I couldn't get enough.  One time he was appearing in Kansas City and my daughter took me to the concert.  She didn't enjoy it, I'm sure, but I enjoyed it enough for both of us.  This was long after John's voice had been half-stolen by cancer, but the lyrics were pure gold.  

While Cliff and I were riding the train up to the Grand Canyon, a guy dressed like a cowboy and toting a guitar came into the coach we were riding in.  He mostly just clowned around.  He'd sing a line or two and then crack a joke that wasn't all that funny.  I wasn't paying a great deal of attention, really, until he sang part of a song and ended it with "well done, son-of-a-gun, hot dog bun, my sister's a nun..." which got my attention.  I enthusiastically sat up straight and said, "John Prine!"  

"Oh, you like John Prine?" the guy asked; I nodded, and said, "He makes me laugh; he makes me happy.  I love John Prine!"  

The guy then proceeded to strum and sing a John Prine song I was barely familiar with, but the connection had been made.  You don't hear or read a lot about Mr. Prine, but when you find somebody else that loves his music, you are instantly friends.  

I was thrilled this morning to find a fairly recent in-depth interview with John on Youtube.  I was surprised to see how deformed his face is (from cancer), because when I saw him in person on stage he didn't seem to look that grotesque.  Anyway, in the interview he comes across as such a nice, normal human being, so very humble about his huge writing talent.  

If I could purchase a book of nothing but John Prine lyrics, it would be the best poetry book I've ever read.  

Here's a very young John singing one of my favorite anthems.

Interesting things at the Grand Canyon

I loved the Grand Canyon view from the Kolb Studio.

On this map of the historic village on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, you can see Thunderbird Lodge, where we spent our night at the canyon, and Bright Angel Lodge, where we went to check in and out of Thunderbird.  Anyplace you see on this map is an easy walk, even for someone with compromised knees.  El Tovar, of course, is where the best food is.  One of the most interesting spots, to me, was the Kolb Brothers' studio.  I'm not even going to begin to tell you about their exploits in the Grand Canyon and on the Colorado River, except to say they were absolutely fearless, and it was all I could do to watch a film from the early 1900's of them doing crazy things in the canyon and on the Colorado River.  Click HERE to read about them and their exploits.  

Here's a Youtube video that tells a little about them: 

Emery made the canyon his permanent home, and lived to a ripe old age.  Cliff and I got off a shuttle bus at the Pioneer cemetery (because I love graveyards), and we happened across his final resting place.  Even with his lifelong habits of daredevil behavior, he lived to be 95 years old.

Across the fence surrounding the graveyard, a fearless elk grazed.

On the bus tour we took our first day at the canyon, the guide cautioned us to watch our step at the overlooks, since there's nothing to stop a person from tumbling over the edge of the precipice at most stops.  

"Surely people aren't stupid enough to get too close and tumble down into the canyon," I said to him.  

Turns out several people die every year in just such a way.  There's even a book telling about all the known deaths at the Grand Canyon.

The guide took a couple of pictures of me and Cliff during our tour.  I'm not sure if he was just being silly or what, but this is a unique angle, isn't it?  

I realize this entry rambles here, there, and everywhere.  Sorry about that, but since my brain isn't too organized this morning, this is what you get.

Someone left a comment on a recent entry telling me that a word I used, "oriental", is a racist expression, and that "Asian" is the proper term.  I wish somebody would write a book telling me all the proper words to use for various people.  Anyway, if my terminology offended anybody, I apologize; it was only out of ignorance.  Now if only I can remember this the next time I need to use the term.  Asian, not oriental.  Asian, not oriental.  Asian, not oriental.  

Sheesh.  Sometimes political correctness throws me for a loop.  You can call me hillbilly.  I'm fine with that.