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John Prine, ‘Sweet Revenge’

Aug 25, 2017

So, yeah, everyone is talking about Taylor Swift. This is an undeniable fact and a constant that will exist from now until the release of her sixth record in three months; it will surely dominate the cultural landscape until we’re all sick of her Reputation … Swift included. This anticipation is a electrifying thing — those bubbles of excitement are not unlike the thrill of waiting on the touch of a new lover — but the machine in which music is released these days is also exhausting, and so often the chorus that envelops a body of work is much louder than the songs themselves. As Swift knows, her reputation precedes her. And surrounds her. And tweets at her and …

Of course, there is music out there now other than what belongs to Swift, and some of it are true bits of treasure. John Prine’s September ’78 was dug up like a literal one: The legendary songwriter found the recording in his basement, a live document of his ’70s swagger and prolific prime. Included in the collection is “Sweet Revenge,” a song full of Prine-ian wisdom, the lyric video for which is premiering exclusively here. Somewhat like Swift, Prine wrote “Sweet Revenge” and the album of the same name as a bit of sonic retribution. His label wasn’t happy with the commercial reception to his second LP, so he dropped a veritable masterpiece to set them straight and silence them once and for all. Swift might experience a different kind of detractor — in the form of tabloids, gossip blogs, and maybe a Kardashian or two — but she could take some marching orders from the ever-sage Prine: “Through rock and through stone, the black wind still moans. Sweet revenge. Sweet revenge, without fail.”  

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