John Prine, Opinions on Courtney Barnett & Scott Hutchison

John Prine

For the last 50 years, John Prine has garnered a multi-generational fan base through his nuanced storytelling as a songwriter and performer. The balance of humor, plain language and reality in his music is what makes him stand out in the genres of folk, country and beyond. Jim and Greg talk to Prine about starting his own independent label, working with Phil Spector and his writing process. Plus, the hosts review the latest album from Courtney Barnett and pay tribute to the late Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit.

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John Prine

John Prine

This week, our guest is singer-songwriter  John Prine. Born and raised just outside of Chicago, Prine began his career as a mailman and started writing folk songs along his route. He performed them live in the Chicago folk scene and was soon signed to a major label. While he put out great releases in the '70s, record companies often didn't know what to do with him - he was a talented songwriter and a gregarious performer, but he just didn't fit the rock mold at the time. Prine started his own label Oh Boy Records in 1984 and has remained independent since. Over time, Prine has managed to get better at his craft while also having to overcome cancer, which altered his singing and speaking voice, making it deeper and more gravelly. His latest album, The Tree of Forgiveness, is his first in 13 years and is his best performing album of his entire career. Jim and Greg talk with John about his career journey, writing songs like "Sam Stone" and about working with everyone from Steve Goodman to Phil Spector.

Tell Me How You Really Feel Courtney Barnett

Tell Me How You Really Feel

Jim thinks that Courtney Barnett is one of the most important discoveries of the past decade. Her well-received debut album, 2015's Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, helped to introduce her clever lyricism and skillful guitar work to the world. Her 2017 album with Kurt Vile, Lotta Sea Lice, followed. And for fans of Barnett, her sophomore solo album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, doesn't disappoint. Greg notes there is "a little bit of humor" and fun. He likes her penchant for writing about "everyday details" and her ability to "boil it down for you in just a few words." Jim enjoys both the "melodic riffs, and the wonderful squalls of noise" that draw comparisons to Kurt Cobain. But he notes that Courtney's lyricism is much more poetic than Cobain. On this album, she touches on issues like misogyny, with songs like "Nameless, Faceless" which quotes Margaret Atwood, who once said that "Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them." Both Jim and Greg give the album an enthusiastic Buy It.

Obit: Scott Hutchison

Scott Hutchison

Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit died recently at the age of 36 after suffering for years with bouts of depression. He and bandmate/brother Grant Hutchison  visited Sound Opinions in 2009, after the release of their 2008 breakthrough album The Midnight Organ Fight. Greg gives his remembrance of the Scottish singer-songwriter who wrote cathartic music that Hutchison called "Anthemic Misery Indie."

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