John Prine: Dear Abby

The wonderful singer-songwriter John Prine turned 65 yesterday (thanks Eamonn).
Dear Abby” was an advice column founded in 1956 by Pauline Phillips under the pen name of Abigail Van Buren, and was syndicated in the Washington Post. Or was it in the evening paper, the Evening Star (later the Washington Star)? We got both. I never missed reading her column, and Peanuts. John Prine’s “Dear Abby” was on Sweet Revenge (released 1973), and it was one of the few songs I actually attempted on the guitar, sitting on the front stoop of our house on A street. Prine’s brand of humor, to me, still defines “home”.

  • listen up, buster/kiddo! listen up good! = hey, come on, listen properly!
  • shoot the breeze = chat, engage in idle conversation

Dear Abby, Dear Abby
My feet are too long
My hair’s falling out and my rights are all wrong
My friends, they all tell me that I’ve no friends at all
Won’t you write me a letter, won’t you give me a call?
Signed,
Bewildered

Bewildered, Bewildered
You have no complaint
You are what you are and you ain’t what you ain’t
So listen up, buster, and listen up good
Stop wishing for bad luck and knocking on wood

Dear Abby, Dear Abby
My fountain pen leaks
My wife hollers at me and my kids are all freaks
Every side I get up on is the wrong side of bed
If it weren’t so expensive I’d wish I were dead
Signed,
Unhappy

Unhappy, Unhappy,
You have no complaint…

Dear Abby, Dear Abby,
You won’t believe this
But my stomach makes noises whenever I kiss
My girlfriend tells me It’s all in my head
But my stomach tells me to write you instead
Signed,
Noise-maker

Noise-maker, Noise-maker
You have no complaint…

Dear Abby, Dear Abby,
Well I never thought
That me and my girlfriend would ever get caught
We were sitting in the back seat, just shooting the breeze
With her hair up in curlers and her pants to her knees
Signed,
Just Married

Just Married, Just Married,
You have no complaint…
…Signed,
Dear Abby

Published by

Anne

Teaching English for business communication skills, writing online for learners, translating, sailing whenever I can, from Washington, D.C.

11 thoughts on “John Prine: Dear Abby”

  1. Hi Anne
    when i was at University (in Manchester england) there was another student, Suzy, who came from canada.
    She introduced me to this song which i haven’t heard for at least 30 years.
    Blimey, we must be old!

  2. Canada, eh? Where is Suzy now?
    Prine had such great songs, some very serious anti-Vietnam War songs – like “The Great Compromise”: “I used to sleep at the foot of Old Glory, and awake in the dawn’s early light. But much to my surprize when I opened my eyes I was the victim of the Great Compromise.”
    Or “Sam Stone”: “There’s a hole in Daddy’s arm where all the money goes. Jesus Christ died for nothin’ I suppose”. He’s the real thing.

  3. Where is Suzy now?!
    Where is my youth now?!!!
    Actually she was a bit of a mystery, now you ask it may be that she was Scottish and had just lived in Canada a bit.
    I last saw her 20 years ago in Edinburgh and i think she was working in TV – production maybe.
    She was pretty smart.
    Smarter than I.

  4. Just a question – by any chance, with your great musical knowledge – i had a friend , back then, who had a vinyl of an American comedian telling stories.
    One was called Black Sambo Pancakes – a story about a restaurant that was serving them and how everyone started to order hundreds as a protest, another story about being in prison and getting a job running the projector for the film evenings, another about a political candidate promising ass.
    Any bells ring?

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