Barbarbara K. Richardson’s Guest Blog

guesthouseTangled Web—The GUEST HOUSE John Prine Connection

I love John Prine. The songs from his first album “John Prine” are little novels, every one. I just played the songs for the first time in thirty years and the man breaks my heart, just like before. Better than before. I’ve written a few novels myself, now, so I know what that takes out of you.

Kris Kristofferson said Prine’s early songs were so good “we’ll have to break his thumbs.” I’ve been singing “Sam Stone” incorrectly from memory on and off these thirty years. It surfaces all the time. My favorite song ever may be Prine’s “Paradise,” which romps into my consciousness almost every time I take a hike. I step onto some dusty trail and “Where the air smelled like snakes we would shoot with our pistols, but empty pop bottles is all we would kill,” sets the pace.

Music and novels. There is a link. When my nephew Jim and I were putting video footage together for the GUEST HOUSE YouTube trailer, we listened to “Roller Coaster Ride” by The Black Hens about a hundred thousand times. It was Jim’s childhood I’d borrowed for the Atomic City scenes, and Jim said, “That is not the song for this godforsaken place. It’s dreary it’s dour it’s broken down…” And he searched his iTunes library for some depressive song to suit. But I stuck with “Roller Coaster Ride.” John Prine taught me the dark goes down much better with a twang of light.

GUEST HOUSE is a dark little novel. I think of it like a song. The whole countryside of your youth may be pillaged, from parental abuse or coal extraction, but Prine assures you “I’ll be halfway to heaven with paradise waiting, just five miles away from wherever I am…” And that’s the gist of it. Amidst destruction, joy.

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Links of Interest:

The Black Hens

John Prine

Barbara K. Richardson’s Website

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