Have you ever had words resonating from a clear voice and vision? Like the way you might feel about your own life. Did you think you once took a wrong turn and you got lonely? Maybe, you would like to get some help just to get you to the end of the day. John Prine appeals to the matters of life. This songwriting skill is evident in his “Angel from Montgomery” song.
“Angel from Montgomery” is one of those songs that is probably best known from a cover Bonnie Raitt’s iconic 1974 version. But, it is a country song written by John Prine, originally appearing on his self-titled 1971 album, John Prine. His songs have stories and characters who rightly show their souls in a just single phrase. He is not always big on a plan, and nothing much happens in “Angel from Montgomery”.
According to John Prine, he wrote “Angel from Montgomery” when a friend suggested that he writes another song about old people. This friend suggested this in reference to Prine’s other great song about getting old, “Hello In There”. Instead, Prine decided to write a song from the perspective of a middle-aged woman who felt older than her actual age and is unhappy with her life. The woman asked an angel to take her away from it all. Prine believes he was likely attached to Montgomery as the song’s location as an honor to Hank Williams, who had ties to that city. It is a song about what could have been, about opportunities missed and dreams long lost. The lyrics never fail to encourage us, to consider our own dreams and think about what our lives might look like when we are as old as the “old woman” Prine sings about.
“Angel from Montgomery”, Great Covers
As much as the original from John Prine became popular immediately, there are also covers that made it a big hit.
John Denver did not try to sound like John Prine, and he certainly did not sound like Bonnie Rait. He sounded like John Denver, himself. To be fair, when he covered the song, Bonnie had not risked her territory yet.
Bonnie Raitt’s rich and raw cover made the song famous and did not hurt her career either. It was her 1974 version that brought the song into mainstream fame. The song clearly held meaning for her. If you try to search for covers of the song, you are just as likely to find it identified as a Bonnie Raitt and John Prine cover. Of course, Prine is better known as a songwriter than a performer. It is fine that both his version and Raitt’s are heard this way. In fact, they have performed it together.
Which of the versions did you enjoy the most? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.
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