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Many music fans know Bonnie Raitt’s “Angel from Montgomery,” the classic country music parody “You Never Even Called Me By My Name” (David Allen Coe), the chart-topping country hits “Love is On a Roll” (Don Williams) and “I Just Want To Dance with You” (George Strait), and the bluegrass standard “Paradise.” But they may not know those songs were all written by the same man: singer-songwriter John Prine.
John Prine: In Spite of Himself traces Prine’s slow ramble to his current status as a reluctant Nashville legend, cited as a favorite songwriter by such luminaries as Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan. (In fact, Prine had to shake off the “new Dylan” label en route to making a name for himself.) It traces his family roots in rural Kentucky, his 1950s boyhood in the Chicago suburbs, his discovery by Kris Kristofferson and Paul Anka after years as a mailman, and his subsequent encounters with Dylan, John Belushi, Bruce Springsteen, Dustin Hoffman, Phil Spector, Sam Phillips, John Mellencamp, Tom Petty, Billy Bob Thornton, and Andy Griffith.
The book also illustrates how Prine overcame lifestyle excesses and bouts with cancer on his way to becoming a multiple Grammy Award winner, Music City fixture, husband, father, occasional movie actor, studio owner, and founder of a pioneering independent record label, Oh Boy Records.