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Heard on Ann Delisi's Essential Music, CultureShift

John Prine, the “Singing Mailman,” In His Own Words

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Image credit: Flickr user Matt / Creative Commons

John Prine, famed country singer, died of COVID-19 complications last week. CultureShift’s Ann Delisi remembers the man known for his storytelling craft and way with words.

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John Prine died on April 7 from complications related to the COVID-19 virus. He was 73.

Growing up, I was close to my grandparents. If you talk to them for a little bit, they’ve got loads of stories to tell.” — John Prine, musician

Prine’s brilliance as a songwriter was rooted in his masterful way of telling a story: Understated, captivating and conversational. He was an old soul who at the age of 20 was writing songs and telling stories from the vantage point of people decades older than he was.

Growing up, I was real close to my grandparents on both sides. Because of them, when I’d meet other elderly people, I felt an affinity for them. I found that if you talk to them for a little bit, they’ve got loads of stories to tell.”

CultureShift’s Ann Delisi explores Prine’s career in a tribute featuring commentary and music from the artist.

Prine started playing guitar at the age of 14. After high school, he served in the U.S. Army before moving to Chicago, getting a job with the U.S. Postal Service and starting to perform at night.

In 1970, Roger Ebert, a rising film critic for the Chicago Sun Times, wandered into a performance and ended up writing a review, dubbing Prine “the Singing Mailman.”

I never had an empty seat after that,” Prine said.

Click on the player above to listen to Ann Delisi’s tribute to John Prine, featuring music and commentary from the artist himself.


Bonus Interview

CultureShift’s Rob Reinhart spoke with Prine in a 2006 as he released his first album of new songs, “Fair & Square,” after his cancer surgery. 

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Rob Reinhart, Host, Rob Reinhart’s Essential Music and Acoustic Cafe

Rob Reinhart is host of WDET’s “Essential Music,” “Culture Shift” and the syndicated program “Acoustic Cafe,” heard on 125 stations around the country, and stations from Greece to New Zealand. He’s voted in 10 presidential elections: 4 wins, 6 losses.

rreinhart@wdet.org Follow @RobReinhart

Ann Delisi, Host, Ann Delisi Essential Music

Ann Delisi will guide you through the “essential music,” both new and familiar, that’s shaping our culture and feature music made in Detroit every hour.

anndelisi@wdet.org Follow @anndelisimusic

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