Happy Birthday John Prine: ‘Live From Sessions At West 54th’
National treasure John Prine turns 73 today. The acclaimed singer-songwriter was born on October 10, 1946 in Maywood, Illinois and embarked on an illustrious career thanks in large part to the wit, charm and honesty he infuses in his music. While he has always been a favorite of critics, he achieved a new level of commercial success with the release of Tree Of Forgiveness in 2018. Prine’s first album to feature all-new songs in 13 years debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200, his best ever ranking on the chart.
John Prine’s self-titled debut studio album came out in 1971. However, it would be nearly 30 years before he performed on television. John appeared in the year 2000 on the third and final season of Sessions At West 54th, a live music series that aired on PBS. The host was John Hiatt and Prine welcomed special guest Iris Dement for a handful of songs as he did for the album he was supporting at the time, 1999’s In Spite Of Ourselves.
In 2001, Prine assembled the set that aired on the program as well as other songs that didn’t make the cut for the live concert DVD Live From Sessions At West 54th. The set was issued through John’s Oh Boy Records imprint and last year footage from the out-of-print DVD was shared on YouTube.
John Prine was backed by guitarist Jason Wilber and bassist David Jacques for the 13-song set. Prine started by reaching back to his 1971 debut for “Spanish Pipe Dream” and “Six O’Clock News.” He then pulled “Souvenirs” from 1972’s Diamonds In The Rough before returning to his debut for “Far From Me.” Next came “All The Best” ahead of a string of songs featuring DeMent off In Spite Of Ourselves that included “Milwaukee Here I Come, “(We’re Not) The Jet Set,” “Let’s Invite Them Over Again,” “When Two Worlds Collide” and the title track.
The music legend put the focus back on his early days and specifically the John Prine LP to close out his appearance on Sessions At West 54th. “Sam Stone,” among his most beloved songs was followed by “Lake Marie,” a tune sited by Bob Dylan as his favorite John Prine song. “Hello In There” served as the finale.
Watch Prine’s performance on Sessions At West 54th below:
Set: Spanish Pipedream, Six O’Clock News, Souvenirs, Far From Me, All The Best, Milwaukee Here I Come*, The Jet Set*, Let’s Invite Them Over Again*, When Two Worlds Collide*, In Spite Of Ourselves*, Sam Stone, Lake Marie, Hello In There