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Number 127

John Prine - Illegal Smile (Atlantic K 10530 - 1972)

I first became aware of John Prine in the early 1970s when I heard the song Sam Stone on the Old Grey Whistle Test, accompanied by a poignant black and white promo film. The song was included on the 1972 sampler album The New Age of Atlantic, along with such diverse acts as Loudon Wainwright III, Buffalo Springfield and Led Zeppelin. The song first appeared however on Prine's self titled debut LP from the year before. It was this particular song that led to the discovery of other great songs such as Angel From Montgomery, Paradise and Hello in There as well as the opening song Illegal Smile, which was subsequently released as a single on the Atlantic record label, backed with Quiet Man from the same album. According to Prine, the song, contrary to popular belief, is not about substance abuse, but has more to do with smiling at things that others don't smile at. I know the feeling!