So I heard of John Prine before, but I never really heard any of his songs. This particular song my daughter wanted to jam it out. So being a good dad, I welcomed the opportunity to hang out with my kiddo.
After playing the song with her I went ahead and actually listened to the song. I think it’s a really good song. I love it that my daughter introduces me to stuff I wouldn’t ever think about listening to.
Below you will find a summery of some back story behind the song Angel from Montgomery. Due to the fact that I am doing my best not use duplicate content on my blog. This is just a summery of what was said.
John Prine was humorous and polite. Every anecdote he narrated had Prine’s humor and kindness. “Angel from Montgomery,” one of his most renowned songs, has a funny and heartwarming backstory.
Eddie Holstein, a funny old acquaintance, is the main character. Prine’s best friend and biggest fan, Steve Goodman, was a member of the Chicago folk scene with him and his brother Fred Holstein.
The Holstein brothers played acoustic guitars at the Earl of Old Town, the Quiet Knight, and the Fifth Peg.
Fred is older. He died in 2012 and was more serious and kind than Ed.
Eddie was younger and funnier, often cracking jokes. Fred excelled on folk music, whereas Eddie was a great songwriter. “Jazzman” was recorded by Goodman, Bonnie Koloc, and Bette Midler.
Eddie always opened “Angel from Montgomery” with a joke.
“John paid me lunch after I wrote half of this,” he said.
John always laughed at the false statement. Eddie wrote none of the song. Almost. Prine’s narrative shows.
So I proposed, “How about a song about a middle-aged woman who feels older?”
Eddie replies, “No.” [Humor]
When I came home, I wrote “Angel from Montgomery” “My mum named me,” she says.
I saw a woman standing over the sink, holding soap, and going away. I kept this thought in mind when creating the song and let it flow from the character’s heart.
If you construct a strong enough character, you can see that character clearly. Song by character. Then tell them what to do. You must preserve the character’s words in the song. See? Here’s my method. I’m hypnotized.
Once I know who someone is, I let them speak for themselves. not equivalent “Observe this 40-something woman. She looks considerably older.” Not as effective.
“Angel” is among his best tunes. “Hello In There,” “Sam Stone,” and “Donald and Lydia” are also masterpieces. His debut album includes it. One of history’s finest debuts.
As a mailman, he wrote all those tunes. No work. Postman wrote these songs. Even when being chased by wild dogs or trudging through snow and ice, he saw the trip as “a library without any books”
“Angel from Montgomery” is a John Prine classic. When it came out, it was big in Chicago’s folk scene and swiftly spread. It was a tutorial in how to make great songs using his real-life poetry and captivating imagery.
Prine didn’t so much explain the story as express it through images of her life, memories, dreams, and wishes.
A male singer declares, “I’m an old woman.” “Flies buzzing over the kitchen” reflect her anguish and desire for her “mystic rodeo angel.”
Prine, it’s crucial. Who else could’ve written it? Nobody.
John Prine’s interview on “Angel from Montgomery”:
Prine and Holstein almost penned “Angel from Montgomery” When I was 14 and attending Old Town School, I met Eddie’s brother Fred. Fred worked at the store part-time.
Fred’s reel-to-reel tape recorder was great for recording my songs. Before I signed with a label, he recorded me playing guitar and singing my songs at his apartment. What happened to the cassettes is unknown.
I enjoyed seeing Eddie eat, so we ate lunch together. Hours were spent eating. He was slender, so you wondered where he ate.
“Why not write a song?” Eddie said. Plus, “I’ve never co-written. We’ll see.”
So I asked him, “What do you want to write?” said “I enjoy your ancient song. Let’s make another geriatric song.”[laughing] Saying “Sorry, Eddie. “Hello In There” was enough. Inconceivable.”
Years later, I was asked how I could write a first-person song from a woman’s perspective. I never considered it because I’m a writer. Any gender can write. What could go wrong with character-driven writing?
Why did I call it that? Everyone can only guess. When I write, I feel distant. Eddie thinks I got it from an angel on Michigan Boulevard in Chicago. Montgomery Wards has a gargoyle.
I was a big Hank Williams, Sr. fan and knew he was from Montgomery. That’s where I pictured the soap-covered woman in my illustration.
She wanted to leave Montgomery, Alabama. She wanted to leave house, husband, and everything. She wished an angel would save her. No matter if she recalls this cowboy.
They wrote a book about Nashville’s famed poster artists, who made Hank Williams and Grand Ol Opry posters. The cover depicts a rodeo poster with “Angel from Montgomery” inscribed on it. Nice poster. I requested one. I wrote what I wanted.
It’s better if the listener can add to the music; it makes them feel included and fills in the spaces. You only tell them the truth. Its color. What’s the door’s distance? When talking about things that can’t be seen or touched, like feelings, the listener might fill in the spaces. That’s still my recommendation.
When I initially sang this and other songs, I was nervous. I feared they’d seem intricate and amateurish. Because nobody told me before. I figured there was a reason. Whatever I’m doing, I must be wrong.
But I liked the tunes. They attacked me. Great music, too. I didn’t know how they’d operate with others because I’m not normal. [Laughter]
When I first played, nobody moved. Instead of applauding, they merely looked. Oh no! I thought, “This stinks.” I looked around and walked.
The applause made me joyful. Suddenly, I could talk. I could communicate deep emotions. All at once was crazy. If I’d written a novel and waited two years for a response, things would be different. “I guess we’ll try it,” he said.
That must’ve changed you. My came quickly. It was there first. I was unknown.