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WATCH: John Prine Recalls First Playing "Sam Stone" & Other Early Songs: "People Didn't Applaud, They Just Looked At Me"
In a 2016 interview with fellow GRAMMY winner Sturgill Simpson, Prine also recounts his first week in New York meeting songwriting legends Kris Kristofferson, Steve Goodman and Bob Dylan
The first you listen to John Prine's 1971 self-titled debut album can be a transformative experience. While you can feel the familiar folk tradition, his songwriting presents song after song after song of something altogether new. In 2016, Prine reflected on playing these early songs, including his classic "Sam Stone," for the first time in public.
"Some [of his first songs] were so different that I hesitated to sing them for anybody," he said. "Because I thought, 'I haven't heard anything like this before, like 'Sam Stone.'' I thought, 'Is it because it's really good, or is it because it's so awful. And the first time I sang it in public, people didn't applaud, they just looked at me, and I thought 'oh s**t this is worse than I thought.'"
The interview comes from a 2016 event presented by the Recording Academy at the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles. This unforgettable evening featured an in-depth conversation with Prine and GRAMMY winner Sturgill Simpson, led by acclaimed music writer and author of Songwriters On Songwriting, Paul Zollo.
Tragically, Prine died this week at age 73 after falling ill with coronavirus. Fans and fellow songwriters everywhere in the music community mourn the loss of one of its greatest the masters, and Simpson posted a heartfelt tribute to his hero and close friend, writing, "So long old man. You will always be loved."
Believe it or not, Prine didn't always think he'd be a songwriter.
"I was looking for something that would interest me, and these interested me, but I didn't know if that would appeal to anybody else," Prine said. "I really wasn't thinking that I was a songwriter, like Sturgill says, It was a hobby, but it took three or four beers for me to stand up and sing to twelve people."
"You were doing better than I was," Simpson joked, pulling one of countless laughs from the crowd that night.
Zollo also asked Prine about his surreal experiences arriving in New York City to meet his iconic contemporaries like Kris Kristofferson, Steve Goodman and, of course, Bob Dylan, all of whom became big fans and supporters of Prine's unique songwriting talents.
Prine recounts the b-movie-esque scene of jumping out of a taxicab with Goodman to catch Kristofferson at legendary venue The Bitter End, calling Dylan up on stage with him, and other wild memories from the Big Apple. "I saw Stevie Wonder eating a banana split once," Prine remembered. "That was pretty cool"
Prine's humor, always understated and deceptively sharp, is present in the conversation just as it is in his songs. And at a time when the world is changing, full of uncertainty, he reminds us not only of the lasting power of songs, but of their intrinsic connection to the human experience. To that end, Zollo asked if songs will always matter, and if people will always want songs in their lives.
"Songs are different from the music business and music and even records," Prine said. "If people didn't have music, they'd come up with it. They'd just drone and moan in the kitchen at night, and music would come out of it. It's something that people need, and they need to get stuff out of them[selves], so people would write songs. Otherwise you'd never get it out of you."
You can see more of Prine and Simpson's discussion in the video above, including a snippet of Prine performing his heart-wrenching tune, "Souvenirs."
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Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show
Dark punk legends to play first show with Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only since last year's Riot Fest reunion
There's big news today for punk-rock fans aware that the Misfits made much more than just T-shirts.
The massively influential punk band announced a special show touted as the "only 2017 performance in this world… or any world" and billed as "The Original Misfits" in Los Angeles at the Forum on Dec. 30.
This will be the first Misfits show featuring original singer Glenn Danzig and original bassist Jerry Only with long-time guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein since the band reunited for a pair of Riot Fest appearances in Chicago and Denver in 2016. Last year's Riot Fest gigs, which featured drummer Dave Lombardo, marked the first time in 33 years the original Misfits members played together.
"OK Los Angeles, you've waited almost 35 years for this, here's your chance to see the "Original Misfits" in this Exclusive L.A. only performance." said Glenn Danzig. "No Tour, No BS, just one night of dark metal-punk hardcore brutality that will go down in the history books. See you there."
Tickets for this "one night only" show go on sale Friday, August 25.
Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards
Dreamville, Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Tyler, The Creator, and YBN Cordae all earn nominations in the category
The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best Rap Album. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which albums have been nominated for Best Rap Album.
Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville
Dreamers III, the third installment in the label’s Revenge of the Dreamers compilation series, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved gold status this past July. In addition to a Best Rap Album nod, Dreamers III is also nominated for Best Rap Performance next year for album track “Down Bad,” featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG, and Young Nudy.
Championships – Meek Mill
In many ways, Championships represents a literal and metaphorical homecoming for Meek Mill. Released in November 2018, Championships is the Philadelphia rapper’s first artist album following a two-year prison sentence he served after violating his parole in 2017. Championships, naturally, sees Meek tackling social justice issues stemming from his prison experience, including criminal justice reform. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, his second chart-topper following 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, and reached platinum status in June 2019. Meek Mill's 2020 Best Rap Album nod marks his first-ever GRAMMY nomination.
i am > i was – 21 Savage
Breakout rapper and four-time GRAMMY nominee 21 Savage dropped i am > i was, his second solo artist album, at the end of 2018. The guest-heavy album, which features contributions from Post Malone, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, and many others, has since charted around the world, topped the Billboard 200 – a first for the artist – in the beginning of 2019, and achieved gold status in the U.S. As well, nine songs out of the album’s 15 original tracks landed on the Hot 100 chart, including multi-platinum lead single “A Lot,” which is also nominated for Best Rap Song next year. 21 Savage’s 2020 Best Rap Album nomination, which follows Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance nods for his 2017 Post Malone collaboration, "Rockstar,” marks his first solo recognition in the top rap category.
IGOR – Tyler, The Creator
The eccentric Tyler, The Creator kicked off a massive 2019 with his mid-year album, IGOR. Released this past May, IGOR, Tyler’s fifth solo artist album, is his most commercially successful project to date. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, marking his first time topping the coveted chart, while its lead single, "Earfquake,” peaked at No. 13, his highest entry on the Hot 100. Produced in full by Tyler and featuring guest spots from fellow rap and R&B stars Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Solange, and Playboi Carti, among many others, IGOR follows the rapper’s 2017 album, Flower Boy, which received the Best Rap Album nod that same year.
The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae
Emerging rapper YBN Cordae, a member of the breakout YBN rap collective, released his debut album, The Lost Boy, to widespread critical acclaim this past July. The 15-track release is stacked with major collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights, including Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, Meek Mill, and others, plus production work from J. Cole and vocals from Quincy Jones. After peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200, The Lost Boy now notches two 2020 GRAMMY nominations: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for album track “Bad Idea,” featuring Chance the Rapper.
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Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz & More Join Small Business Live Benefit Livestream
Proceeds from the event will be go toward loans to small businesses founded by people of color, with additional support to women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses, via Accion Opportunity Fund
This Saturday, June 20, artists including Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz and more will come together for Small Business Live, a livestream fundraiser event for small businesses facing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Proceeds from the livestream will go to Accion Opportunity Fund to support small businesses founded by people of color, with additional support to women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses.
“Entrepreneurs of color are denied credit more often and charged higher rates for money they borrow to fund their businesses. We need to accelerate support to underserved businesses in order to reach our full potential,” Accion Opportunity Fund CEO Luz Urrutia said. “We have to decide what we want our Main Streets to look like when this is over, and we must act decisively to keep small businesses alive and ready to rebuild. This is a fun way to do something really important. Everyone’s support will make a huge difference to small business owners, their families and employees who have been devastated by this pandemic, the recession, and centuries of racism, xenophobia and oppression.”
Tune in for Small Business Live Saturday, June 20 from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. EDT on smallbiz.live. The site also provides a full schedule of programs and links to watch the livestream on all major digital platforms. To learn more about Accion Opportunity Fund, visit the organization's website.
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Pusha T Announces Daytona Tour, Drops "If You Know You Know" Video
The rapper will hit the road across the U.S. in support of his recently released, Kanye West-produced album
Pusha T has officially announced dates for his 2018 Daytona Tour. The Former Clipse rapper will hit the road for a 22-date U.S. tour in support the Kanye West-produced album launching in Denver on July 21 and wrapping up in Oakland, Calif. on Oct. 13. In addition to the tour announcement, Pusha also dropped a video for the lead-off track from Daytona, "If You Know You Know," directed by Shomi Patwary.
Daytona was released on May 25 as the first project of Kanye West's "Wyoming Sessions." Four of the album's songs have cracked the Billboard Hot 100 including "Infrared," "If You Know You Know," "The Games We Play," and "What Would Meek Do" featuring West. The album also debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200.
A full list of dates for the 2018 Daytona Tour, along with ticket information, can be found via LiveNation's website.