The Singing Mailman Delivers

Before John Prine's 1971 debut got him dubbed the next Dylan, he was a Chicago mailman playing his homespun folk tunes at an open mic. These two discs contain a radio appearance and a live set right before he went national (the title is the headline of a review by Roger Ebert). It's a fine introduction to a richly imagistic Midwestern everyguy whose languid good nature defied singer-songwriter smugness – from the stoner anthem "Illegal Smile" to "Great Society Conflict Veteran’s Blues" (later renamed "Sam Stone"), during which the audience joins Prine's brokenhearted chorus, "There's a hole in Daddy's arm where all the money goes," with a lamenting familiarity.

Listen to "Illegal Smile":

From The Archives Issue 1144: November 24, 2011
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