My older siblings play guitar and sing. My brother who was murdered when I was twelve was a musician. "Paradise" and "Angel from Montgomery" are songs that I knew first from hearing them sung by people that I love. "Paradise" is my favorite; it expresses so many things, love of the land, the unimaginable sorrow of loss, the pain and destruction created by greed. It would not be an exaggeration to say that this song shaped the way I view the world.
I'm not writing an elegy for Mr. Prine. He is yet among the living, and I don't know him well enough for that. I am saying his words and his songs are important to me in ways that are distinct from but bound up in my own life. That's how art and music weave their magic.
Make me an angel that flies from Montgom'ry
Make me a poster of an old rodeo
Just give me one thing that I can hold on to
To believe in this living is just a hard way to go