The ripe age of 70 is one hell of a time to experience a resurgence of interest in your music career, and that’s exactly what’s happening for country songwriting legend John Prine. Celebrating his seventh decade on planet Earth on Monday (8-10), Tuesday found confirmation that his most recent album For Better, Or Worse has come in at #2 on Billboard’s Country Album’s charts, sandwiched in between titles from mainstream folks such as Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line, and even besting the sales of new mainstream releases from William Michael Morgan and others.
For Better, or Worse is a sequel to John Prine’s beloved 1999 album In Spite of Ourselves. The new record finds Prine recording country standards with a female supporting cast including Iris DeMent, Alison Krauss, Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, Susan Tedeschi, Lee Ann Womack, Kathy Mattea, Holly Williams, Amanda Shires, and Morgane Stapleton.
But nostalgia is not all that is driving the renewed interest in John Prine and his new record. A close friend of fellow songwriter Jason Isbell, and one of the most revered living songwriters in the Americana scene, a new generation of country music fans are finding favor with Prine’s material both old and new.
“I’m a senior now,” Prine tells the Wall St. Journal, “and I get this attention from younger folks. They heard me in the back seat of their father’s car or something, and they’re all jumpin’ at the chance to record with me.”
Many are also jumping at the chance to hear the new John Prine material apparently. For Better, or Worse is Prine’s first proper studio release in a decade after a Cancer diagnosis slowed his output starting in 1999. The new album was released by his own Oh Boy Records which recently partnered with Thirty Tigers.
Many older and independent artists are finding career success on the albums charts due to the adoption of streaming music by many mainstream fans, but to come in at #2 is still a surprise for Prine. The best any of his records had ever charted previously was In Spite of Ourselves which peaked at #21. For Better, or Worse also comes in at #5 on the Folk/American chart, and #30 on the all genre Billboard 200.