John Prine Readies First Ever Songbook, ‘Beyond Words’

April 12th, 2017: As seen on Archive (PDF)


John Prine talks his new songbook up in the trailer for ‘Beyond Words’; Photo: John Prine/YouTube

70-years-young Americana legend John Prine is about to drop his first ever songbook, Beyond Words, on April 18 via his label Oh Boy Records, culling over 60 songs, rife with rare photographs and handwritten lyrics.

Still reeling from his 2016 PEN Song Lyric Award for Literary Excellence, duly honored for his contribution to the American canon with 19 albums and counting, ranging from the tale of a Vietnam vet who becomes addicted to heroine (“Sam Stone“) to the slow death of love in marriage (“Angel From Montgomery“), the book will offer a long-time coming peek into his songwriting process.

In a video trailer for the book Prine elaborates on the incredulity of his craft, “I’m never sure with my mind when I’m writing. I’m never sure if it’s facts or if I’m making it up. There’s no line between it,” adding, “I thought jeeze, this stuff is real. I thought I just made it up in my mind. I wasn’t sure. By golly, half of this stuff is real. Your honor. I just don’t know which half is real. It’s beyond words, really.”

So there’s your title-origin, guys.

Whether it’s real or not, Johnny, why does that matter with lines like this:

There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes,
Jesus Christ died for nothin’ I suppose
Little pitchers have big ears,
Don’t stop to count the years,
Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios

Watch the trailer with Prine talking about Beyond Words, rehash “Sam Stone” and check out a few pictures from the book below. There’s also a Spotify playlist Oh Boy Records put together that reveals a lot of 60 songs included in the book, should you want to scope that.