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John Prines Sam Stone Theres a hole in Daddys arm where all the money goes Jesus Christ died for nothin I suppose Little pitchers have big ears Dont stop to count the years Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios --John Prine Sam Stone 1971 On the liner notes to John Prines self-titled debut Kris Kristofferson writes about the late-night morning when Steve Goodman introduced him to the artist who many at the time thought would be the next Bob Dylan Prine sang about a dozen songs in an empty bar among them Sam Stone and Kristofferson describes the experience as One of those rare great times when it all seems worth it like when the Vision would rise upon Blakes weary eyes Even in this Dungeon this Iron Mill Kristofferson was spellbound--Twenty-four years old and he writes like hes two-hundred and twenty He and Goodman went away believers reminded how goddamned good it feels to be turned on by a real Creative Imagination Whenever I think about Vietnam amidst the dense cluster of emotions images and memories which that enchaunted word summons I hear Prine singing Sam Stone I bring this up because JWT Mitchells characterization of CNN and JFK as bookends of 1991 describes cultural events which similarly mark boundaries within my own life I was born less than a year after JFKs assassination and the specter of the conflict overseas as Prine names the war haunted my childhood I remember not understanding the news reports on television and I remember initially knowing my uncle only by his absence and his uniformed photograph enshrined on my grandparents endtable On the day that Iraq invaded Kuwait I was a young man hiking in the mountains of California with a friend who less than 24 hours later was on an airplane headed for Saudi Just as CNN and JFK marked 1991 Vietnam and the Gulf mark my
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