As he approaches his 30th year as a recording artist, Grammy-winning singer/songwriter John Prine looms as the master of his own destiny. A perennial favorite among critics and musicians, Prine has cultivated a devoted following with his rootsy melodies, Dylanesque vocals and barbwire wit. And though his songs have been covered by Bonnie Raitt, Joan Baez, The Everly Bros. and Bette Midler, among others, Prine’s biggest achievement may be business related. As founder and president of Oh Boy! Records, he produces and distributes his recordings - a fitting situation for a ruggedly independent man like Prine.
But even by his exacting standards, Prine’s latest album is a bold move. In Spite of Ourselves finds the singer interpreting 16 honky-tonk classics originally recorded by country legends like George Jones and Tammy Wynette, Jim Reeves and Tex Ritter. To make the concept even more interesting, Prine performs duets with acclaimed country divas such as Emmylou Harris, Trisha Yearwood, Patty Loveless and Lucinda Williams. Says Prine: “I sat down and made myself a dream list of duet partners, then we started calling people up. To my surprise, they all said yes. I like singing with girls. It kinda takes the edge off my voice.”
For Prine, In Spite of Ourselves marks a triumphant return to the recording fold. The singer, who recently rebounded from cancer surgery, has reemerged with a vengeance. Aside from the critically acclaimed In Spite of Ourselves, Prine has scored a role in Billy Bob Thornton’s upcoming Miramax film, Daddy & Them.