LISTEN: Top 10 John Prine Songs (2023)

Since the release of his self-titled debut album in 1971, John Prineamazed fans and critics alike with his ability to put the world in a song. One of the greatest songwriters of our generation, Prine's ability to portray the truest aspects of life have been lauded by artists such as Bob Dylan andJason Isbell, and institutions including the Americana Music Association, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and, more recently, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, theRock and Roll Hall of Fameand the Recording Academy.

Whether he was telling the tragic story of a war veteran struggling with drug addiction in "Sam Stone" or exploring the passing of time in "Summer's End," Prine made a name for himself with lyrics that are full of vivid imagery, witty wordplay and, sometimes, just a bit of snark to keep us guessing.For almost 50 years and through two dozen albums, Prine provedtime and again to be one of the best storytellers in any genre of music.

Scroll down to discover The Boot's picks for Prine's Top 10 songs:

  • 10

    "You Never Even Called Me By My Name"

    From David Allan Coe's 'Once Upon a Rhyme' (1975)

    Although “You Never Even Called Me By My Name” wasn’t originally recorded by Prine, its imagery and humor are classic tropes of the Americana legend. Recorded by Coe on his fourth album,Once Upon a Rhyme, the song is known not just for giving Coe his first Top 10 single, but also for its hilarious lyrics, which are equally self-aggrandizing and self-deprecating. Describing itself as “the perfect country and western song,”“You Never Even Called My By My Name” established both Coe and Prine as country music outlaws, providing a satirical look at the country music industry and fame in general.

    (Video) John Prine Greatest Hits Playlist - Top 10 Country Songs Of John Prine

  • 9

    "Illegal Smile"

    From 'John Prine' (1971)

    The first song off of his first album, “Illegal Smile” introduced the world to Prine’s clever humor and inclination to storytelling through song. Juxtaposing a hard-knock life with the narrator’s ability to smile through it all, Prine said that the track is about the fact that, ever since he was a child, “I had this view of the world where I can find myself smiling at stuff nobody else was smiling at.” And when you hear a lyric like “Bowl of oatmeal tried to stare me down … and won,” how can you not smile?

  • 8

    "Mental Cruelty"

    From 'For Better, or Worse' (2016)

    Prine’s 2016 album For Better, or Worseis full of vintage country duets sung alongside some of the most popular female artists of our time, from Americana darlings such asAmanda Shires to country-pop mainstays includingMiranda Lambert. Every track on For Better, or Worsesticks out in its own way, but none perhaps as much as “Mental Cruelty,” for which which Prine teamed up with Kacey Musgraves. The clever back-and-forth between Prine and Musgraves perfectly encapsulates the sly, winking banter that both artists have become known for, making it the perfect song for their collaboration.

  • 7

    "Angel From Montgomery"

    From 'John Prine' (1971)

    One of two songs on Prine’s self-titled 1971 debut album that chronicles growing older, “Angel From Montgomery” has become one of the Americana icon’s best-loved songs (thanks, in part, to Bonnie Raitt’s iconic cover of the track, released in 1974). Prine saidhe wrote the song based on a “vivid picture of this woman standing over the dishwater with soap in her hands, and just walking away from it all … She wanted to get out of her house and her marriage and everything. She just wanted an angel to come take her away from all this.” Mixing traditional country and a gospel-like organ backing, “Angel From Montgomery” is a pure picture of nostalgia for the past and hope for the future all mixed in one.

    (Video) John Prine Greatest Hits Playlist - Top 10 Country Songs Of John Prine
  • 6

    "Everything Is Cool"

    From 'A John Prine Christmas' (2009)

    With lyrics that talk about “black-haired angels” and “the valley of the unconcerned” “Everything Is Cool” is the perfect anti-Christmas Christmas song, despite the fact that it appears on Prine’s 2009 record A John Prine Christmas. Following the death of a relationship, Prine still sings that “everything is cool” simply because a new love has walked into his life. Prine saidthe “black-haired angel” is really his wife, Fiona, whom he credited with washing away all his sins and making him a new man again. We’re not quite sure what makes this one a Christmas song (aside from sleigh bells that open the song and Prine’s comment that his baby left him “before last Christmas”), but we are sure it’s one hell of a country song.

  • 5

    "In Spite of Ourselves"

    From 'In Spite of Ourselves' (1999)

    Debuting on his first album since battling throat cancer, “In Spite of Ourselves” once again proves Prine’s prowess as a songwriter, storyteller and performer alongside folk darling Iris DeMent. The song appears on Prine’s first album of duets with exclusively female partners (the second being his 2016 release For Better, or Worse), but while the latter reveals a hilariously cynical and defeated approach to love, “In Spite of Ourselves” is all about how love prevails in spire of some of our worst habits. DeMent sings about her panty-sniffing, beer-chugging, “wacked-out weirdo” with nothing but love, proving that even the most strange relationships can work.

    (Video) John Prine and Iris DeMent - In Spite of Ourselves (Live From Sessions at West 54th)

  • 4

    "Some Humans Ain't Human"

    From 'Fair & Square' (2005)

    Every Prine song paints a picture, and “Some Humans Ain’t Human” reveals a portrait of the unkind. In his trademark dry wit, Prine tells us some people's hearts are made of “afew frozen pizzas,” and that they are just “some ice cubes with hair / A broken popsicle / You don’t want to go there.” Released on Prine’s 2005 album Fair & Square, “Some Humans Ain’t Human” also sees Prine take a political stance, alluding to the presidency of George W. Bush and the war in Iraq in a not-so-positive light.

  • 3

    "Sam Stone"

    From 'John Prine' (1971)

    Tackling tough issues such as war and drug addiction is never easy, but for Prine to do so on his debut album with such poignancy and grace is truly a triumph. "Sam Stone" chronicles the struggles of a war veteran as he tries to readjust to life after physical, mental and emotional distress, and eventually turns to drugs. Prine’s deft storytelling is on full display, creating such vivid imagery that listeners can see this song's titular characteras if he were standing right in front of them. “Don't stop to count the years /Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios,” sings Prine in the chorus, touching on common themes of the passing of time and the fading of everything in a way that seems new and refreshing … especially considering he wrote and recorded the song when he was just 24 years old.

  • 2

    "Lake Marie"

    From 'Lost Dogs and Mixed Blessings' (1995)

    Prine at his lyrical best, “Lake Marie” is one of the most literary songs in any genre, taking listeners through an epic tale about abandoned babies, crumbling marriages and even a double homicide. But it’s not just the series of events that make “Lake Marie” so shocking and visceral, it’s the decidedly upbeat music behind the lyrics and the layers of questions that only a truly great song (or any piece of art, really) can conjure. “Lake Marie” presents just enough information to leave us wanting more, trying to piece together a story with a meaning that's wide open for interpretation. Plus, if Bob Dylan lists “Lake Marie” as his favorite song by Prine, who are we to argue?

    (Video) John Prine - All the Best
  • 1

    "Summer's End"

    From 2018's 'The Tree of Forgiveness'

    Prine’s startlingly beautiful track from 2018’s The Tree of Forgiveness tops thislist because it is quintessential Prine. For almost five decades, Prine’s lyrical storytelling has been virtually unmatched, combining searing and witty lyrics with careful instrumentation, and “Summer’s End” is no exception. Lyrics such as “The moon and stars hang out in bars just talkin' / I still love that picture of us walkin' / Just like that ol' house we thought was haunted / Summer's end came faster than we wanted” make for a track that is bothsaturated in melancholy and unwavering in hope as a well-loved season of life comes to a close. And the song’s simple chorus beckoning the listener to “come on home / You don’t have to be alone” is made even more powerful by Prine’s accompanying music video revealing the devastating effects of the opioid crisis in America.

What's Your Favorite John Prine Song?

Did your favorite of Prine's tracks make it onto our Top 10 list ... or did we miss it? Share your picks for Prine's best songs in the comments section.

NEXT: 5 Hit Songs You Probably Didn't Know John Prine Wrote

(Video) John Prine Greatest Hits Playlist - Top 10 Country Songs Of John Prine -God bless John Prine!


What was Bob Dylan's favorite John Prine song? ›

Lake Marie

It's probably the best-known cut on this big-production record and is also Bob Dylan's favourite John Prine song. If playback doesn't begin shortly, try restarting your device.

What did Dylan say about John Prine? ›

During a conversation with The Huffington Post many years later, Dylan would label Prine's lyrics “pure Proustian existentialism,” and “Midwestern mind trips to the nth degree.” But it wasn't just Prine's capacity as a writer that impressed Dylan.

What was John Prine's first song? ›

"Illegal Smile"

The first song off of his first album, “Illegal Smile” introduced the world to Prine's clever humor and inclination to storytelling through song.

What was ACDC's biggest hit? ›

1. Back In Black (1980)

What song is Louis Prima famous for? ›

He died on August 24, 1978. In 1967, Prima supplied the voice for the character King Louie, the orangutan in the Walt Disney film The Jungle Book. The song he sang, “I Wanna Be Like You,” became a hit and has been covered multiple times by artists such as Smashmouth, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and the Jonas Brothers.

Who is Bob Dylan's favorite singer? ›

Dylan paid tribute to Dalton in his 2004 autobiography Chronicles: Volume One: “My favourite singer was Karen Dalton. Karen had a voice like Billie Holiday and played guitar like Jimmy Reed, I sang with her a couple of times.”

What is considered Bob Dylan's greatest song? ›

See our picks for his 10 greatest songs below, and for more, check out our epic list of his 100 greatest songs right here.
  • 'Mr. ...
  • 'It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)' ...
  • 'I Shall Be Released' ...
  • 'All Along the Watchtower' ...
  • 'Just Like a Woman' ...
  • 'Tangled Up in Blue' ...
  • 'A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall' ...
  • 'Like a Rolling Stone'
29 Aug 2019

What did David Bowie say about Bob Dylan? ›

In an interview with Melody Maker in 1976, Bowie said: “It was at that period that I said, 'OK, Dylan, if you don't want to do it, I will. ' I saw that leadership void”. Bowie's song responds by directly referencing 'Song To Woody' and assumes Dylan's throne.

Who is Dylan's best friend? ›

The “Louie” in reference was Louie Kemp, Dylan's best friend since they met at Hertzl summer camp in the summer of 1953.

What Bob Dylan said about Muhammad Ali? ›

In every way he was the bravest, the kindest and the most excellent of men” – Bob Dylan On Muhammad Ali.

What did Bob Dylan say about Ali? ›

If the measure of greatness is to gladden the heart of every human being on the face of the earth, then he truly was the greatest,” Dylan wrote of Ali, who died Friday at the age of 74, on his website. “In every way he was the bravest, the kindest and the most excellent of men.”

How much is John Prine's estate worth? ›

John Prine Net Worth
Net Worth:$10 Million
Date of BirthOct 10, 1946 - Apr 7, 2020 (73 years old)
Place of BirthMaywood
ProfessionSinger, Singer-songwriter, Guitarist, Actor, Musician, Songwriter
1 more row

What was the Supremes first hit? ›

In 1964 Holland-Dozier-Holland gave the Supremes their first number one single with “Where Did Our Love Go.” Embellishing Ross's precise, breathy phrasing with chiming bells and a subdued rhythm section gave the Supremes an intentional lack of identifiable ethnicity.

Who did John Prine leave his Porsche to? ›

John Prine Had a Porsche 911, and Left It to Sturgill Simpson | Saving Country Music.

What does ACDC stand for? ›

"AC/DC" is an abbreviation meaning "alternating current/direct current" electricity. The brothers felt that this name symbolised the band's raw energy, power-driven performances of their music. "AC/DC" is pronounced one letter at a time, though the band are colloquially known as "Acca Dacca" in Australia.

How many #1 hits does AC DC have? ›

AC/DC have only had three Top 40 hits in America.

What was a massive hit for ABBA? ›

ABBA's biggest hit singles worldwide are "Dancing Queen" and "Fernando", with Arrival being their biggest hit studio album. The compilation album Gold: Greatest Hits (1992) is the second best-selling album of all time in the UK and has sold over 30 million copies worldwide.

Who is the king of classical rock? ›

Elvis Presley is the undisputed King of Rock and Roll. In 1954, Elvis Presley kicked off a musical revolution by modernizing traditional genres such as blues, country and bluegrass.

What type of jazz is Louis Prima? ›

While rooted in New Orleans jazz, swing music, and jump blues, Prima touched on various genres throughout his career: he formed a seven-piece New Orleans-style jazz band in the late 1920s, fronted a swing combo in the 1930s and a big band group in the 1940s, helped to popularize jump blues in the late 1940s and early ...

What artists were inspired by Freddie Mercury? ›

  • Freddie Mercury.
  • Queen.
  • Lady Gaga.
  • Katy Perry.
  • Wiz Khalifa.
  • Dave Grohl.
  • Metallica.
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
4 Sept 2019

Who is Taylor Swift's favorite song? ›

Taylor Swift Says This 'Midnights' Track Is One of Her 'Favorite Songs' She's Ever Written.

Who is Harry Styles favorite Beatle? ›

It's never a surprise when a contemporary pop star namechecks one of The Beatles among their greatest influences, but Styles seems to have a very individual penchant for McCartney deep cuts.

What song did Bob Dylan write for Elvis? ›

Tomorrow Is a Long Time

What is considered the best song ever? ›

Aretha Franklin's 'Respect' named Greatest Song of All Time by Rolling Stone.

What is the greatest song ever to exist? ›

The Top 50 most iconic songs of all time
  • Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana.
  • Imagine - John Lennon.
  • One - U2.
  • Billie Jean - Michael Jackson.
  • Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen.
  • Hey Jude - The Beatles.
  • Like A Rolling Stone - Bob Dylan.
  • I Can't Get No Satisfaction - Rolling Stones.

What song was #1 for the longest time? ›

"Old Town Road" holds the record for the longest stretch at No. 1 with 19 weeks. It also became the fastest song in history to be certified diamond.

What did John Lennon say about David Bowie? ›

He was probably one of the brightest, quickest, witted, earnestly socialist men I've ever met in my life. Socialist in true definition, not in a fabricated political sense. But a real humanist with a really spiteful sense of humour, which of course, being English, I adored.

What Bowie thinks of Pink Floyd? ›

“I'd say I'm a big Pink Floyd fan. The first time I saw them, my parents dragged me along when I was six or seven,” Bowie begins as Gilmour enters the room behind him.

What did Tom Petty say about Bob Dylan? ›

He influenced my songwriting, of course. He influenced everybody's songwriting.” –Tom Petty. TOM PETTY: We hadn't heard Dylan [growing up in Florida] until “Like A Rolling Stone” came out as a single. And we loved that right away.

Who is the bestfriend of Taylor Swift? ›

Selena Gomez and Taylor Swift are the ultimate BFFs, so we're looking back at some of their key friendship moments, from how they met to all the adorable things they've said about each other. Selena Gomez and Taylor Swift have been best friends for years and the singers never miss an opportunity to big each other up.

Did Bob Dylan ever meet the Beatles? ›

On Friday 28 August 1964, in a room in the Delmonico hotel at Park Avenue and 59th in New York City – at a rendezvous brokered with a keen eye to a story by journalist, mutual friend and assiduous self-publicist Al Aronowitz – the Beatles encountered Bob Dylan for the first time.

What did Bob Dylan think of the Beatles? ›

In an interview with Klas Burling back in 1966, Bob Dylan talked about The Beatles saying the didn't played Rock and Roll music: “Oh, the Beatles are great, but they don't play rock'n'roll.” Interviewer: “You met them quite a few times, as well in the States and in England.”

What was Muhammad Ali's IQ? ›

* The U.S. Army measured Ali's IQ at 78. In his autobiography he said, “I only said I was the greatest, not the smartest.”

Who did Ali say was his hardest fight? ›

There was probably no bigger challenge in my career than the one George Foreman posed in Kinshasa, Zaire. Strangely, although regaining my crown will remain one of my greatest thrills, it wasn't one of my toughest fights. The toughest would be my fight with Sonny Liston, when I won the title in 1964.

What did Tyson say about Ali? ›

'Iron Mike' asserted: “I'm vain [laughs], I know I'm great, but can I tell you something? In this situation, every head must bow, every tongue must confess: This [Ali] is the greatest of all time.

What Bruce Lee said about Ali? ›

Everybody says I must fight Ali some day.” Bruce said, “I'm studying every move he makes. I'm getting to know how he thinks and moves.” Bruce knew he could never win a fight against Ali.

What was Muhammad Ali's favorite line? ›

"Float like a butterfly. Sting like a bee. You can't hit what your eyes don't see." Why we love it: Ali's most famous quote deserves all the love it gets.

What did Muhammad Ali Think of the Beatles? ›

Ali joked that they should join forces and 'make some money'

Ali quickly broke the ice. “Hello there, Beatles! We oughta do some road shows together. We'll get rich!” Ali said, according to Lipsyte.

How much is Prince worth? ›

Prince's $156 million estate has been settled six years after his death. Prince's estate is finally settled after a six-year court battle. The late singer did not leave a will regarding his $156 million estate.

How much is Hank Williams estate worth? ›

Hank Williams Net Worth
Net Worth:$100 Thousand
Place of BirthMount Olive
Height6 ft (1.83 m)
ProfessionMusician, Singer-songwriter, Author
2 more rows

How much is Louis Armstrong estate worth? ›

Louis Armstrong Net Worth: Louis Armstrong was an American jazz trumpeter and singer who had a net worth of $10 million dollars. Louis Armstrong (August 4, 1901 – July 6, 1971) was born in New Orleans, Louisiana to a very poor family.

What was the Supremes biggest selling single? ›

"Where Did Our Love Go" sold over 2 million copies in the US alone, where it is ranked number 586 on the Billboard all-time chart, where "Baby Love" is number 559.

How many #1 hits did Motown produce? ›

Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Motown 1s is a collection of 25 #1 songs originally released by Motown Records, plus a newly recorded bonus track, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," performed by Michael McDonald.

How many consecutive #1 hits did the Supremes have in 1964 and 1965? ›

Wilson, with the Supremes, achieved an unprecedented 12 #1 hits and 5 consecutive #1s from 1964-1965 “Where Did Our Love Go”, “Baby Love”, “Come See About Me”, “Stop!

Does Bill Gates own Porsche? ›

What Car does Gates Drive? He is known to be a Porsche collector. In his possession are a Porsche 911, a 930, and a rare 959. Of the Porsche 959 only 337 were produced.

Does Keanu Reeves drive a Porsche? ›

Keanu Reeves owns a Black colour Porsche 911 Carrera 4S which has manual transmission. He calls it “The Sled” as it is “sleek and fast”. This car used to come in 1995 and it is powered by a 3.6 liter M64 naturally aspirated engine. In 2010, he tied a Christmas tree on top of this Porsche 911 Carrera 4S's roof.

What car did Prine give Sturgill Simpson? ›

You might be surprised to learn the legendary folk songwriter John Prine owned a Porsche. You might be even more surprised to learn he bequeathed it to Sturgill Simpson upon his passing.

What was the biggest hit for Echo and the Bunnymen? ›

1: The Killing Moon (from 'Ocean Rain', 1984)

Topping our list of the best Echo And The Bunnymen songs, The Killing Moon is, by Will Sergeant's own admission, such a defining tune, it's “almost like the only thing we've ever done”. But what a thing to be remembered for.

What was Jeff Carson's biggest hit? ›

He charted 14 singles on the Billboard country charts, including the Number One hit "Not on Your Love", the Top Ten hits "The Car" and "Holdin' Onto Something", and the Top 20 "Real Life (I Never Was the Same Again)". He retired from music in 2009 and became a police officer.

What was the Dramatics biggest hit? ›

They are best known for their 1970s hit songs "In the Rain" and "Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get", both of which were Top 10 Pop hits, as well as their later 1993 collaboration "Doggy Dogg World" with Snoop Dogg, a top 20 hit on the Billboard Rhythmic Top 40.

What is Breaking Benjamin biggest hit? ›

  • So Cold. Breaking Benjamin. 09.11.04. 11.13.04. ...
  • The Diary Of Jane. Breaking Benjamin. 08.12.06. 08.19.06. ...
  • I Will Not Bow. Breaking Benjamin. 09.19.09. ...
  • Breath. Breaking Benjamin. 04.14.07. ...
  • Give Me A Sign (Forever And Ever) Breaking Benjamin. 04.24.10. ...
  • Sooner Or Later. Breaking Benjamin. 04.02.05. ...
  • Failure. Breaking Benjamin. 04.11.15.

What was the biggest hit for Van Halen? ›

“Jump” is Van Halen's biggest hit ever on the Hot 100, having spent five weeks at No. 1 on the list.

What was Bowie's first hit to hit No 1? ›

He then released three solo studio albums with EMI – Let's Dance (1983), whose title track became his first single to reach number one in both the UK and US, Tonight (1984) and Never Let Me Down (1987).

What was ambrosia's biggest hit? ›

Ambrosia is an American rock band formed in Los Angeles, California in 1970. Ambrosia had five top 40 hit singles released between 1975 and 1980, including the top 5 hits "How Much I Feel" and "Biggest Part of Me", and top 20 hits "You're the Only Woman (You & I)" and "Holdin' on to Yesterday".

What is Carson's favorite song? ›

Tonight Show band stalwarts Doc Severinsen, Tommy Newsome and Ed Shaughnessy play Johnny Carson's favourite song 'Here's That Rainy Day' to close David Lette...

What was Nanci Griffith biggest hit? ›

Track listing
1."Trouble In the Fields"3:18
2."From a Distance"4:10
3."Speed of the Sound of Loneliness"4:20
4."Love at the Five and Dime (live)"4:44
16 more rows

What was Marshall Crenshaw's biggest hit? ›

Marshall Howard Crenshaw (born November 11, 1953) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and guitarist best known for hit songs such as "Someday, Someway," a US top 40 hit in 1982, "Cynical Girl," and "Whenever You're on My Mind." He is also the co-author of one of the biggest radio hits of the '90s, the Gin ...

What is the most used song in TV? ›

Somewhere Over the Rainbow” — Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

Since then, countless musicians have covered the classic song, with many different covers appearing on-screen. However, the most famous cover was done as a medley with Louis Anderson's “What a Wonderful World” in 1993 by Hawaiian singer Israel Kamakawiwo'ole.

What was Elvis Presley's breakout hit? ›

"Heartbreak Hotel" became Elvis' first #1 on Billboard's pop singles chart and his first gold record award winner. It reigned on the Billboard pop charts for eight weeks of its 27-week stay. It also enjoyed a 27-week run on the country singles chart with 17 of those weeks at #1.

What came after grunge? ›

Post-grunge is a derivative of grunge that has a less abrasive or intense tone than traditional grunge. Originally, the term was used almost pejoratively to label mid-1990s rock bands such as Bush, Candlebox and Collective Soul that emulated the original sound of grunge.

What was cold chisels biggest hit? ›

1). Their top 10 singles are "Forever Now" (1982), "Hands Out of My Pocket" (1994) and "The Things I Love in You" (1998). At the ARIA Music Awards of 1993 they were inducted into the Hall of Fame. In 2001 Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA), listed their single, "Khe Sanh" (May 1978), at No.


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