Last July, John Prine was awarded the prestigious PEN Songwriting Award alongside Tom Waits, having contributed a wealth of indelible lyrics (“there’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes,” among many others) to the musical canon since releasing his debut album in 1971. On April 18th, Prine’s label Oh Boy Records will give some insight into his creative process with John Prine Beyond Words, his first-ever songbook.
Beyond Words will include lyrics and guitar chords for more than 60 of Prine’s songs, a body of work that includes classics “Angel from Montgomery,” “In Spite of Ourselves” and “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You into Heaven Anymore.” Additionally, the book will feature 100-plus photographs, copies of Prine’s handwritten lyrics with commentary and an up-close look at the work of one of music’s most gifted craftsmen.
“I’m never sure with my mind when I’m writing. I’m never sure if it’s facts or if I’m making it up. There’s no line between it,” Prine says in a trailer for the book.
In 2016, Prine released For Better, Or Worse a collection of duets with a wide range of female singers, including Lee Ann Womack, Susan Tedeschi and Kacey Musgraves, on songs from the classic country canon instead of his originals. When Rolling Stone spoke with him earlier this year, he was working on songs for a new album but it was slow going.
“I don’t wanna just sit down and write a little couplet that’s kind of witty, or something. I’ve done that,” he said at the time.
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At present, Prine is overseas on a European tour, with plans to circle back through North America via Canada beginning in May.