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Standard Songs for Average People
     

Standard Songs for Average People

by John Prine
 
The word "legend" is tossed around far too often. But John Prine, with a 30-years-plus body of unassailable, socially aware songs filled with wry humor, lyrical poignancy, and deep humanity, and Mac Wiseman, one of the greatest bluegrass tenors of all time -- well, these guys are unqualified legends whose styles will be studied by generations yet unborn. At the urging

Overview

The word "legend" is tossed around far too often. But John Prine, with a 30-years-plus body of unassailable, socially aware songs filled with wry humor, lyrical poignancy, and deep humanity, and Mac Wiseman, one of the greatest bluegrass tenors of all time -- well, these guys are unqualified legends whose styles will be studied by generations yet unborn. At the urging of another by-God legend, Cowboy Jack Clement, Prine and Wiseman gathered a bunch of their favorite songs, assembled a crack band that includes guitarist Pat McLaughlin and pedal steel master Lloyd Green, brought in the Grand Ole Opry's velvet-voiced Carol Lee Singers to provide sumptuous backgrounds, and voila! A genial, warmhearted musical event transpired that found our heroes assaying everything from Bing Crosby's pop classic "Where the Blue of the Night" to a dreamy take on Patti Page's 1957 "Old Cape Cod" (on which the ruggedly weathered voices offer a resonant contrast to a lush string chart and the Carol Lee Singers' smooth crooning) to a reverent, country church-style rendering of the venerable hymn "Old Rugged Cross." The grizzled vets have a lot of fun warming up to the perky Bob Wills-Cindy Walker western swing homily "Don't Be Ashamed of Your Age," which they aren't, and getting frisky on a perky bluegrass treatment of Al Dexter's "Pistol Packin' Mama," during which Ronnie McCoury adds a sprightly mandolin solo. A little blues from Leon Payne, some heartbreak from Kris Kristofferson, some love and happiness courtesy Ernest Tubb, nostalgia for a simpler time via Tom T. Hall -- the songs are as vintage as the performances. But it all sounds fresh.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Mark Deming
The title tells the story well enough on Standard Songs for Average People, a set of 14 country-leaning classics interpreted by venerable singer/songwriter John Prine and bluegrass balladeer Mac Wiseman. While Prine has never possessed a classically strong voice, he knows how to communicate a lyric well enough (even lyrics he didn't write himself), and it's clear that he loves the songs he's selected for this project (Prine also co-produced with David Ferguson). Whatever Prine may lack in vocal polish, Wiseman easily brings to the table; if his voice is a bit sandier than it was years ago, he can still make the weepers sound convincingly sad and the uptempo numbers bring a smile when he's singing. The arrangements and production recall the smooth but homey sound of Nashville's countrypolitan era, and the pickers bring the songs across with a simple but impressive aplomb (especially Tom O'Brien on guitar and banjo and Joey Miskulin on accordion). And the songs...well, certain songs become standards because they're so good almost no one can go wrong with them, and on this set "I Love You Because," "The Blue Side of Lonesome," "Saginaw, Michigan," and "Old Rugged Cross" sound fresh and engaging, even though you've probably heard them hundreds of time before. And while they may not be as well-known, Tom T. Hall's "Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine," Kris Kristofferson's "Just the Other Side of Nowhere," and Bob Wills' "Don't Be Ashamed of Your Age" sure sound like classics coming from Prine and Wiseman. The craft is strong on Standard Songs for Average People, but at its heart it sounds like two friends singing some old songs they love on a quiet evening, and that's part of the album's strength -- these are 14 songs sung by two guys who know a great tune when they hear it, and they allow these numbers to work their magic simply, which serves them very well.

Product Details

Release Date:
04/24/2007
Label:
Oh Boy
UPC:
0094012003821
catalogNumber:
38
Rank:
59793

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

John Prine   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Mac Wiseman   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Lloyd Green   Pedal Steel Guitar
Pat McLaughlin   Acoustic Guitar,Harmonica,Mandolin,Ukulele,Vocal Harmony,Guitar (Baritone)
Mike Bub   Bass
Jack Clement   Dobro,Guitar
Charles Cochran   Electric Piano
Stuart Duncan   Fiddle
Jamie Hartford   Electric Guitar
Ronnie McCoury   Mandolin
Pat McInerney   Drums
Joey Miskulin   Accordion
Tim O'Brien   Banjo,Guitar
David Jacques   Bass
Lester Armistead   Vocal Harmony
Kenneth Blevins   Percussion,Snare Drums
Carol Lee Singers   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Tom T. Hall   Composer
Kris Kristofferson   Composer
Bing Crosby   Composer
Charlie Feathers   Composer
John Prine   Arranger,Producer,Audio Production
Leon Payne   Composer
Ernest Tubb   Composer
Cindy Walker   Composer
Fred E. Ahlert   Composer
Bunetta   Management
David Ferguson   Audio Production
Stan Kesler   Composer
Roy Turk   Composer
Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys   Composer
Claire Rothrock   Composer
Milton Yakus   Composer
C. Austin Miles   Composer
Allan Jeffrey   Composer

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