Your Dirty Little War

Abby Zimet

Oh boy. Saw John Prine last week. He's a wonder, a master, a mensch who writes smart, wry, mournful, heart-stabbingly true songs about life and love and its vital fragments: the "spaces between Donald and whatever he said," the lover who "still laughs with me, but she waits just a second too long," the bathtub moment "naked as the eyes of a clown," the way "Broken hearts and dirty windows/ Make life difficult to see/ That's why last night and this morning/ Always look the same to me." Prine is 64, unlovely, raspy-voiced from time and the cancer he beat some years back. But his fierce and tender two-hour-plus set stirred the heart. Lots of fine old gems: Sam Stone, Souvenirs, Donald and Lydia, Angel from Montgomery. And, pointedly, his anti-war mantra, Flag Decal. "I wrote it in '68," he said dryly. "I thought it would be relevant for about a week." Alas, it wasn't. He's on tour. Go.

"But your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.
We're already overcrowded
From your dirty little war."

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