April 08, 2020

Whistle and Fish

Many years ago, a friend gave me a cassette of the late great John Prine's first album as a birthday present. She told me that someone had given her the vinyl album years before because it was so strange that she was the only person he knew who could make sense of it. I guess she saw in me a kindred spirit. But, as the outpouring of grief at Prine's death from coronavirus shows, we weren't the only ones.

Despite my chronic Dylan fixation, which is entirely involuntary, I gave it a try and was amazed. These songs were funny, silly, sad and serious and unlike anything I'd heard before. There was an added bonus: I was just trying to learn to play guitar and was pleased to learn that if you had four chords, say G C D and A7, you could wing your way through quite a few of them. And his voice sounded like a real hillbilly, which I mean as a compliment.

One of my favorite Prine songs is a silly one about a serious topic, i.e. the reconciliation of God with humanity, which might require some mutual forbearance, in the spirit of Robert Frost's words "Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee /And I'll forgive Thy great big one on me."

The song is "Whistle and Fish." Part of it goes like this:

Father forgive us  for what we must do
You forgive us and we'll forgive you
We'll forgive each other till we both turn blue
Then we'll whistle and go fishing in Heaven
I'd like to think that the two of them have let bygones be bygones and are whistling away at the Great Celestial Fishing Hole.

1 comment:

SusieQ said...

Loved John Prine for a long time. Saw him in concert in Indy over the past 30 years, and have never grow tired of his tunes. Listened all day Sat & Sun this past weekend and fondly recalled the moments of joy he has given all of us who love and appreciate his tales of life. God Bless♥️