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John Prine w/Leon Redbone 

When: Fri., March 26, 8 p.m. 2010

Prine Time

If John Prine had written nothing else in his career but the couplet, “She thinks all my jokes are corny / Convict movies make her horny,” we would still ransack every Grammy and gold record on Don Henley’s mantel and leave them all for Prine in a heap at Brown’s Diner. But the man’s got a catalogue wider and deeper than Lake Louise — a treasure trove of protest songs that retain their corrosive bite (“Sam Stone,” “Paradise”), mordant slices of life (“Donald and Lydia,” “Hello in There”), and character sketches of utterly mysterious beauty and empathy (“Angel from Montgomery”). Elvis Costello recently celebrated him as an American legend on the Spectacle TV show, no doubt kicking himself for not writing the line, “I knew that topless lady had something up her sleeve.” But even after a brush with cancer that left his voice lower and scratchier, Prine wears his mantle lightly — it’s hard to think of many other legends who’d drawl out every lusty goofball syllable of “Let’s Talk Dirty in Hawaiian.” No funny songwriter was ever sadder, and no sad songwriter was ever funnier. And if it means getting to hear this genius in the flesh, the deaf can take both my ears, if they don’t mind the size.
— Jim Ridley

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