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Tag Archives: John Prine

Hallelujah

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A beautiful song for the third anniversary of my marriage to Bruce. This “Hallelujah” was written by Leonard Cohen, whom I posted about just the other day, and is sung here by kd lang, who Bruce and I saw in concert here in Orlando last Sunday.

So many thoughts—

One reason why this song is perfect for today is that Bruce, like lang and Cohen, is a Canadian. “Canadian content” is one of our short-hand phrases for pointing that out—the distance from which we came together.

Another reason is that the love of people our age is complicated. Just this morning, I woke up with a low blood sugar and burst into tears over anxiety about our upcoming trip to Berlin—all my fears of not being able to keep up because of the arthritis in my foot and needing to rummage around in his friends’ kitchen for low-blood-sugar juice in the middle of the night and of my stomach getting upset over unfamiliar foods… Bruce and I had to talk it all out, and I told him after I realized what day it is that maybe I should wish him an unhappy anniversary. But, no, he loves me—and I love him—in spite of all the flaws of our human condition. “All the perfect and broken Hallelujahs have an equal value,” Cohen is quoted as saying about the song, and that seems appropriate today, even though I would not call my love a cold or broken hallelujah. Quite the contrary.

But even the kd lang concert the other night gave me much food for thought. Beyond the beauty of lang’s voice and the sheer pleasure of the concert, I have to note that it was not particularly well attended. Bruce and I—and no telling how many others—had gotten free tickets in a last-minute promotion, which was no doubt inspired by poor ticket sales. The Hard Rock Café concert space was even so only about 2/3 full, and I felt bad about this. Lang gave a terrific performance, and I know that non-sellout shows must be a standard feature of the musician’s life, but it was hard for me to believe that someone as distinguished as kd lang hadn’t filled the place up.

Bruce noted that there’s really no great way to keep up with events going on in Orlando, and several friends commented later that they, alas, had not realized she would be here. We ourselves had missed a John Prine concert just a few days earlier in spite of the fact that I’m his fan on Facebook and would have loved to be there. (I first saw him in concert in about 1977, and perhaps we should label him with “Appalachian content” to also indicate the different roots Bruce and I have.) It’s just hard to keep up, and we are distracted from our “entertainment” options, even the profound ones, by our work.

Such is the unpredictable and accidental nature of fame, art, love, and human life. Today, I am grateful to be experiencing all that together with him.

Angel from Montgomery

This is one of my favorite songs that plays with persona and identity. Serendipitously, my brother reminded me of it this weekend, just when I’d been thinking about how it is that art can transcend identity categories. It’s a beautiful, wistful song, and, as John Prine points out in this video, it’s in the voice of a “47-year-old housewife” even though it was written by him. I might add that it was written by him when he was young enough to think that 47 is old.

Bonnie Raitt, of course, is the person who made it famous. She has a voice like no other and that has transcended genre and made many a convert to country and blues. So, I offer her version, too, even though I put the Prine one first, on the basis of authorship, the lovely video of him on the river, and the way he describes his imaginative process.

Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You into Heaven Anymore


This week’s last anti-war song is by one of my old favorites, John Prine—it’s about flags as “Makeshift Patriot” is about flags, but from about as different a source as you will find. And this one comes to us from the 1970s, with the implicit question attached of why humans never seem to learn about war.

This is also a funny song. I’ve been self-conscious lately about my earnestness, how obnoxious it can be. Granted, the week of 9/11 is not the time to throw caution to the wind and try to be funny. But humor does return, as reported by both Studio 360 and WYNC. There is a strong relationship between tragedy and comedy. Even Freud knew that jokes are serious business. Ha ha.