John Prine, a famous Maywood native, inside his Nashville home. | Kyle Dean Reinford/New York Times
Wednesday, April 6, 2016 || By Michael Romain
The influential singer-songwriter John Prine has penned songs for music royalty like Johnny Cash and Pink Floyd. Bob Dylan has compared his work to the French novelist Marcel Proust. And he recently won a prestigious award that’s also been given to Leonard Cohen and Randy Newman.
But before he was all that, he was a boy from Maywood, where he attended Proviso East High School. Lately, an April 6 article in the New York Times informs us, Prine has been battling with his health.
In 2013, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Six months and a major surgery later, he was back on the road, “singing his distinctive American songbook: ‘Angel From Montgomery,’ ‘Hello in There,’ ‘Lake Marie,’ ‘Souvenirs‘ and so many more.”
“His concerts often have a tent-revival vibe, with people shouting his name and singing along to stories about endangered places and marginalized people, forgotten movie stars and newfound love,” writes Dan Barry.
The article also mentions Maywood by name, describing the village as a “blue-collar Chicago suburb.” It would seem, then, that Maywood at least plays some role in shaping one of the most influential songwriters in American musical history, considering how strongly the blue-collar Midwestern ethos figures in Prine’s body of work.
“He grew up beside a four-lane highway in the blue-collar Chicago suburb of Maywood, a son of Bill and Verna, a tool-and-die maker and a homemaker, both from Muhlenberg County in western Kentucky,” Barry notes.
“He listened to Hank Williams, learned guitar from an older brother and was glad to land a civil-service job soon after high school: mailman. He composed lyrics as he delivered the mail — with little interruption to his train of thought. After working the same route for more than three years, for example, he delivered a package to a longtime customer who asked: “When’s the regular guy coming back?”
To read the full Times article, click here. VFP