Dear John Prine

This morning, I cried so hard, listening to the new John Prine album, the Tree of Forgiveness,  I ran a red light and had to pull over. Mascara rolled down my face. It’s his first new album in 13 years and it’s a dandy. His songs are still beautiful, silly and heartbreaking,  John Prine is the cheerful and melancholy Dr. Seuss of the music world.

I started listening to John Prine when his first album came out in the 70’s. I was thirteen. My big brother Jack who was a freshman in college was a huge fan. He had a beat up pick-up and we’d roll down the windows and howl along to every song.  Two years latter both my dad and Jack died suddenly, two weeks apart and for several years John Prine’s voice, his messages and emotions,were just about  the only music I could tolerate.  His broken voice and sad, goofy songs some how  duct taped my heart for a little bit,  until it began to heal on it’s own.

In the beginning most of John Prine’s songs were really sad. But every album he has grown more hopeful, his view of life has evolved.  The world, I think, used to hurt his soul, now he seems amused and charmed by this planet and her inhabitants.

Over the years I’ve tried to meet John Prine, but it’s never meant to be and that’s ok.  I talk to him in my head sometimes.  Today, I imagined telling him about the two Mennonite men I saw this morning with long beards, big hats and antique hats and they were vaping.

My son Jack is a songwriter in Nashville, he grew up listening to John Prine and the influence is obvious. Jack is taking me to see Mr. Prine live next weekend in a little venue in Nashville. I don’t need to meet him anymore, but if I did I’d tell him I’m happy he’s happy. He wasn’t always. And I’m so glad we’re both still alive. That’s takes a lot of work sometimes. I’d thank him for Jack’s songs because they bring me joy and make me proud. I’d thank him so staying with me all these years.

I was still listening to Tree of Forgiveness when I got to work. I parked, turned off the car and the music stopped suddenly. And that med me cry all over again.

 

Jack and Eddie too me to see John Prine ten years ago.

 

 

Is There Hope For County Music?

margoI hate most country music right now. That’s a bad thing because I work at a big county radio station that I love. I make my living on county music. But most of it just sucks right now and doesn’t work for anyone over thirty five cause we aren’t hot girls any more, most of us don’t wear Daisy Dukes and dance in the back of pickup trucks in corn fields. Most country music right now is horribly over produced, predictable, commercial oatmeal. I’m not sure how it got so far away from it’s original sincere story telling roots.

I’ve had a long life with country music. When I was five and  my mom was listening to Fiddler On The Roof in the living room I stayed locked in my room listening to How Highs the Water Mama? by Johnny Cash. In the eighties, when my friends finally got out of my car I’d take out the Talking Heads or Cheap Trick tape and listen to Waylon, Merle and John Prine.

But there’s hope!  For months my oldest son, Jack, has been telling me about this girl in Nashville. Margo Price. At first he just talked about how good she was. Then, when she got signed by a real record label he was really encouraged and I started paying attention.  When her first album, Midwest Farmers Daughter came out and I saw her on a news program I started telling the country DJs in the building about her. I stood behind them and forced them to watch videos and I said stuff like, “Look, she’s a real musician, and check out her band. It’s freaking awesome.”

Then Margo was interviewed on NPR and appeared on Saturday Night Live. For the first time I started to think there was a little hope for country music.  If you haven’t heard her she’s a lovely mashup of old school, traditional, twangy country with a brilliant modern twist. She’s honest and smart with a killer steel guitar player. And this womanl has actually lived, she’s suffered and sinned, loved and lost…. so she  has something to write about. This is so much better than the vacuous frat boy stuff we’re listening to now.

And today it happened. Tom Duke a legendary country music DJ, walked past and said, “Well, I noticed that girl charted today.”

Maybe the crappy country tide is turning. Maybe Margo was the necessary stone on the country music scale that will start the tipping.

Yaaaahhhh. Thank you Margo Price. You’ve given something to me that I loved and lost. And for the first time in five years I might start listening to our station again, and I’ll even listen to the music, not just the commercial breaks to make sure my clients are taken care of.

Here’s one of my favorites: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9b7QwdCWhw

Free Stuff From Hampoland


nat out band

So, I spent the weekend in Nashville with my son Jack, his little brother, Sandor and the guys in Jack’s band, Natural Outlaw.

We tore that town up but by far, the highlight of the four day excursion   was a show, Saturday night. Natural Outlaw played and once again, I was absolutely astonished.  Their music is almost a throw back to Lynard Skynard/Marshal Tucker days. It’s guitar driven sleazy greasy Southern rock with smart lyrics.

It’s the kind of music that makes guy do shots and drunk girls get drunker then dance in a pack in front of the stage.

The boys know exactly what they are doing on stage but they don’t have a clue as to how the music business works. Still…folks show up when they play so they must be doing something right.

Everyone tells me they need a music manager.  Apparently I can’t buy one so I’m asking you for help and I’m also giving stuff away.

Write to me at hampoland@gmail.com  and I’ll send you an ep with three songs and a bunch of books of Natural Outlaw matches. Pretty handy, right?

The first song on the EP is Miss Nessa about an adventure with a horny  55 year old cage fighter lady who tried to pick Ryan and Jack up in a dive bar. It’s a true store.

The second song gives me goose bump. “Make You Proud” is the only sweet love  song Jack has ever written. It’s beautiful and he only drops the F Bomb once.

Track three is a gritty  southern anthem that needs to be played  in a massive stadium.   It’s the song that reminds me so much of Skynard and makes me roll my windows up so I can crank it and sing really really loud. I can’t believe my son wrote it.

So Hampoland readers, from East Texas to new England, if you want this prize package let me know and I’ll fix you up. If you like it and want to help me find a music manager or record company or producer….well then I’ll love you forever and give you more matches.