One more day for John Prine. As I spent time listening to him trying to find something, I was reminded why I love that first album. It really is the best stuff he ever did. He grew as a songwriter, but that album is far more positive than anything he did afterward. Even in sad songs like “Hello in There,” he’s talking about something touching and beautiful.
Today, I offer up “Blue Umbrella” off Prine’s album Sweet Revenge. And frankly, it’s not one of his best. But it’s so evocative that I can’t help myself.
The Clueless Guy
It reminds me a lot of Dr Hook in that it’s hard to take it seriously. Prine seems to be making fun of a certain kind of guy. You probably know him — although it could be a gal too, even though they are less common.
They have many failed relationships and are in a constant state of confusion about why this is. What’s so funny (or annoying) about this guy is that everyone tells him what the problem is: the women who leave him, his friends, his family, even online quizzes he takes.
It reminds me of the scene in The Man with Two Brains where Steve Martin asks to be given a sign if there is anything wrong with his feelings for Dolores. There’s a loud moaning, “No!” The house shakes, the lights go out, the painting spins, they are explosions and the wind whips at him. And after it, he says, “Just any kind of sign. I’ll keep on the lookout for it.”
That’s the guy in this song: he thinks he can figure out the seasons if only he had an extra one, despite the fact that he gets to experience the seasons over and over.
But just like with “Sylvia’s Mother,” the song is both heartfelt and hilarious.
Sweet Revenge album cover mage via Amazon under Fair Use.