In the buildup to the late John Prine's Oct. 10 birthday, his Facebook page has been sharing memories tied to the "Angel From Montgomery" songwriter's early years as a mainstream artist.
The best post so far explains how Kris Kristofferson played a role in Prine transitioning from the Chicago folk music scene to the Atlantic Records roster.
"Kris Kristofferson played four nights at the Quiet Knight, and every night Steve Goodman tried to get Kris to come over and see John across town," began the post. "That Sunday night at 2 a.m., Kris showed up at John's gig. John explained, 'The chairs were on the tables, the waitresses were counting their tips and I was waiting for my paycheck. And Kris came in with two other people. We got four chairs down and I got on the stage right in front of him and sang about seven songs. And then he bought me a beer and asked if I could get back up there and sing those seven again and anything else I wrote.'
"Soon after, Kris invited John to perform a couple songs at his show at The Bitter End in NYC," the post continues. "In the audience was the record executive Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records, who the day after the show, offered John a record deal at 10 am the next morning...his first time in New York City and was offered a record deal in less than 24 hours."
In a 2019 interview with Billboard, Prine revealed that the set list for his private concert for Kristofferson included debut album standouts "Sam Stone," "Hello in There," "Paradise," "Donald and Lydia" and "Illegal Smile."
Other ties between Prine and Kristofferson include the story of how Prine first met Bob Dylan at Carly Simon's apartment and the full title of one of the finest examples of Kristofferson's songwriting, "Jesus Was a Capricorn (Owed to John Prine)."
Prine's Atlantic run brought us his self-titled first album (1971), Diamonds in the Rough (1972), Sweet Revenge (1973) and Common Sense (1975). Bruised Orange (1978) began a three album run on Asylum Records. Eleven albums issued by the Prine family's Oh Boy Records spanned from Aimless Love (1984) to The Tree of Forgiveness (2018).
Prine, an inspiration to Nashville's community of Americana and country music singer-songwriters, died from COVID-19 (the coronavirus) on April 7, 2020.