John Prine's professional career began in 1970, when he signed with Atlantic Records and released his self-titled debut. Prine has always been an "artist's artist" and has constantly found himself surrounded by other artists that range from folk and country to rock and roll. He has influenced countless musicians throughout the years.
In the 1970's, artists like Kris Kristofferson and Steve Goodman were drawn to his songs. Bob Dylan spoke of Prine fondly. In 1975, on his album Common Sense, his last record for Atlantic, he had guest contributions from Bonnie Raitt, Glenn Fry, Jackson Brown and Steve Goodman.
In 1991, Prine teamed up with Howie Epstein - also known as the bassist for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Epstein was a big fan of Prine's music. This album, The Missing Years, included contributions by Tom Petty, Phil Everly, Bonnie Raitt, and Bruce Springsteen while Epstein, of course, played bass. Everyone on the album had a pretty serious pedigree. Years won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album.
In 2005, Prine released his 15th album, Fair and Square. It charted at #55 on the Billboard 200. This record also won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album.
John Prine has been nominated for six Grammy's and has collected three. He has won three Americana Music Honors & Awards, and was inducted in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003. He has influenced countless artists including legendary songwriters like Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan. At the age of 70, he was named the 2017 Artist of the Year by the Americana Music Association.
The Tree of Forgiveness released in April and releases on vinyl in May. It's been thirteen years since his last album of new songs. As he has impacted so many artists over his 50 years of making music, Prine finds himself influencing a whole new class of songwriters in Nashville. He's played with Jason Isbell, shares a songwriting office with Sturgill Simpson, and had duets with Maranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, and Amanda Shires. He has always been surrounded by songwriters and artists and this newest release is no different.
The album is produced by Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Brandi Carlile, Chris Stapleton, Anderson East, and Sturgill Simpson). It features contributions from Isbell and Amanda Shires, Dan Auerbach, and Brandie Carlile. It has released to more "fanfare" than any album Prine has release in a long, long time. Rolling Stone had it as one of the "54 Most Anticipated Albums of 2018."
Forbes had this to say about the release: "His new studio offering The Tree of Forgiveness begins at No. 5, granting him his first appearance inside the uppermost tier on the albums tally. He has previously found a home on the all-genre chart over a dozen times and he’s even won a few Grammys, but a new career high must be gratifying to someone who has been working so hard for so long. The Tree of Forgiveness moved 54,000 equivalent units in its first frame of availability, with all but 1,000 of those being actual purchases."
The album was written just a few years after Prine survived his second bout with cancer in 2013. The Tree of Forgiveness, a record populated with reflective songs about mortality, love and family, is hard not to hear as one of the most dearly personal records of Prine’s long career. One cant help but think that Cobb has pulled a coveted "Cash - Rubin" album that has the potential to allow Prine one heck of a swan song.
Prine said during the recording, “I kept saying when I was doing this album, it’s going to be my last one,” he admits with a grin. “But if things go really good with it, I can’t see why I wouldn’t do something else.”
B.T.R.C. has picked John Prine's The Tree of Forgiveness as May's Singer Songwriter Record of the Month. The version we will be shipping to our subscribers is the Limited Edition Green-colored Vinyl.
B.T.R.C. - David W. Williams
Join B.T.R.C. by May 25th and choose Singer Songwriter to receive The Tree of Forgiveness in your first Subscription Box! Members choose the style / genre SINGER SONGWRITER!
1. Knockin' on Your Screen Door
2. I Have Met My Love Today
3. Egg & Daughter Nite, Lincoln Nebraska, 1967 (Crazy Bone)
4. Summer's End
5. Caravan of Fools
6. Lonesome Friends of Science
7. No Ordinary Blue
8. Boundless Love
9. God Only Knows
10. When I Get to Heaven
What critics are saying about The Tree of Forgiveness
"Bonnie Raitt’s comparison of John Prine to Mark Twain seems apt on many levels. Both are singular American storytellers and ironists, with wits sharper and stranger than their peers. Although this is not always the case, Prine’s music feels humble and unassuming."
Winston Cook-Wilson - SPIN - John Prine’s The Tree of Forgiveness Is an Imperfect But Moving Summation of His Strengths
"it's very good, frequently brilliant, with all the qualities that define Prine's music."
Will Hermes - Rolling Stone - Review: John Prine Keeps Finding Fresh Revelations on 'Tree of Forgiveness' His first album of originals in more than a decade has all the qualities that have defined him as one of America's greatest songwriters
"With The Tree Of Forgiveness—71-year-old Prine’s first album of all-new material in 13 years—he doesn’t miss a beat, doling out material that highlight every facet of his still-underrated talent."
Madison Desler - PASTE - John Prine: The Tree Of Forgiveness Review
"Time's effect on Prine's process notwithstanding, the years have undeniably had an impact on his voice. Over the years, some combination of cigarettes, the aforementioned health issues, and simply the clock's tick-tock conspired to deepen and roughen the songwriter's naturally creaky pipes. But the age-appropriate vibe of Prine's vocals only serves to deepen the impact of his lyrics, especially when he employs the kind of deadpan delivery that's always been one of his secret superpowers."
Jim Allen - NPR Music- John Prine Offers 'The Tree Of Forgiveness' For A Weary World