(TPR) When Holly Gleason met John Prine at 20, she had no idea the man who'd written "Angel from Montgomery," "Hello in There" and "Sam Stone" would be a major player in her life's journey. The young music critic stringing for The Miami Herald spent two hours on the phone, took a job, saw her story spiked - and forged an alliance lasted for the rest of the Songwriters and Grammy Hall of Famer's life.
On Sept. 12, Chicago Review Press releases PRINE ON PRINE: Interviews & Encounters, part of their Writers in Their Own Words series. Edited by Gleason, this is a labor of love. Following musicians through various phases of their careers via appearances in the media and other places, PRINE ON PRINE collects work from noted mediacrats Studs Terkel, Roger Ebert, Cameron Crowe, Robert Hilburn, then Poet Laureate Ted Kooser, Robert Christgau, Dave Hoekstra, Ronni Lundy and Grammy-winner Bob Mehr.
Along the way, Prine runs away with a writer from Hot Rod, graces the cover of No Depression, takes a bespoke role in Billy Bob Thornton's "Daddy & Them," receives the Pen Literary Award for Lyrical Achievement from John Mellencamp, is profiled in PEOPLE, twice on NBC's "Today" by Emmy winner Mike Leonard and shares a couple favorite recipes and stories in Shuck Bean, Stack Cake & Honest Fried Chicken. Record company bios, Chicago folk history, stories around starting labels and cooking dinner, publications long gone and a throwdown with Bobby Bare are all part of the fun.
"John was many things," marvels Gleason. "It is so easy to see him as this elder Americana legend, writing songs that transcend time and place to touch your heart or soul or life. But he was also a fun guy, with a clear vision, a deep love of home and all it stands for and an absolute sense of self that allowed the tenderness of how he saw the world to remain pretty consistent throughout the book.
"Social commentary without preaching, his a sense of right and wrong informed how he lived. Whether it's Robert Hilburn seeing him in the hilarious limbo of life without a major label, Dave Hoekstra celebrating the Earl of Old Town's anniversary, as well as Steve Goodman and the folk movement that birthed both men or Chris Willman delving into women's reproductive autonomy for a charity single of 'Unwed Fathers' with Margo Price, Prine's aim was true."
Gleason is the former fiancée of Oh Boy, Red Pajamas and Blue Plate Music co-founder and Prine co-manager Dan Einstein. She spent many of her formative years as a nationally recognized music critic in Prine's world, which provides empiric insight into many of these pieces from being there. Gleason later provided media strategy and services for In Spite of Ourselves and Fair & Square, remaining friends with the Grammy-winning legend throughout his life.
"PRINE ON PRINE is as much about capturing an artist creating something that hadn't really been done, tracing the arc from unthinkable to commonplace. It would not be nearly the book it is without the help of Dan Einstein, who passed away as the book was nearing completion. But he got on the phone, made calls and helped find some of the pieces here, which might have been lost forever based on what it took to track down some of them. Even the cover picture - from a photo session for PEOPLE - was basically forgotten."
Having created, edited and contributed to Woman, Walk The Line, the 2018 Belmont Book Award winning collection of essays about how female country artists profoundly impact individual lives with contributions from Taylor Swift, New York Times best-selling author Alice Randall, Rosanne Cash, Grammy-winning historian Holly George-Warren, poet Caroline Randall Williams, top James Beard Award winner Ronni Lundy, food activist Ali Berlow and more, Gleason understands curating a narrative can sometimes reach places a single reported narrative can't. That was the goal for PRINE ON PRINE, and across myriad mediums, moments and conversations, a sense of the man across his truly lived life emerges. Pre-order here.