Archive for April 17th, 2009

Total FreedomI came across a snippet of an interview with Bob Dylan where he was asked about his favorite songwriters.  It was a short list with some interesting choices that might surprise some.  He mentioned the late Warren Zevon and Jimmy Buffett, two artists who were more or less pigeon-holed by the success of their best known hits.  For Zevon it was Werewolves of London and for Buffett, Margaritaville.  But when you look deeper into their work you find a treasure chest of beautifully written, poignant songs.  For instance, in the years before he became a caricature as the leader of the parrotheads (and vastly wealthy as a result) Buffett wrote several powerful albums.  Living and Dying in 3/4 Time is a beautiful album.  

But he also mentioned John Prine.  

I don’t know how well known he is among the general public but for me he has been a giant for about 35 years, writing simple songs that mix wit, wisdom and raw emotions.  His wordplay is wonderful and his melodies have deep hooks that instantly catch in my head.  His first album, John Prine, is packed with classics.  Angel From Montgomery, Sam Stone, Donald and Lydia, Six O’Clock News, Spanish Pipedream and on and on.  But my favorite is Paradise, a song wistfully recalling a young boy going with his parents to visit relatives in western Kentucky.

It brought to mind how the idea of paradise changes as we grow older, hopefully gaining wisdom.  When we’re young paradise is defined by place.  Where to find paradise.  For some, it might be a beach in the sun or a mountain in the snow.  For others, it’s being in the midst of a big city with everything at their fingertips.  We run to these places hoping to find what we define as a paradise.

But as we grow, we come to realize that paradise is not place.  You can be in the perfect place and still not be happy or fulfilled.  Paradise is an inside thing.  You have to find it in yourself to really find it.  Much like the kid in the Prine song.  Doing simple things in less than glamorous environments but feeling happy, safe and secure.  Kids can find paradise everywhere.

Anyway, I wanted to show this song.  There are other versions out there but I like this one from many years ago.  A much younger John Prine sings from his backyard.  Enjoy the paradise…

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