Award-winning author and music critic, Holly Gleason, has announced her next book, a look into the life of the late American songwriting legend John Prine.
Out Sept. 12, the book is part of the Chicago Review Press’ Writers in Their Own Words series. Titled Prine On Prine: Interviews & Encounters, the book follows Prine via appearances in the media and other places, collecting work from media titans Studs Terkel, Roger Ebert, Cameron Crowe, Robert Hilburn, then poet Laureate Ted Kooser, Robert Christgau, Dave Hoekstra, Ronni Lundy and Grammy-winner Bob Mehr. The collection of pieces has been traced and edited by Gleason.
Some highlights in Prine On Prine include the songwriter running away with a writer from Hot Rod, gracing the cover of No Depression, taking a bespoke role in Billy Bob Thornton’s Daddy & Them and receiving the Pen Literary Award for Lyrical Achievement from John Mellencamp. Readers will see Prine profiled in People and twice on NBC’s Today by Emmy winner Mike Leonard
Gleason pulls some of Prine’s favorite recipes and stories from Shuck Bean, Stack Cake & Honest Fried Chicken for the book, as well as record company bios, Chicago folk history, stories around starting labels and cooking dinner, publications long gone and a throwdown with Bobby Bare.
Gleason has a vast understanding of her subject. She met Prine when she was 20, forming a life-long friendship with the Songwriter and Grammy Hall of Famer.
“John was many things,” she shares. “It is so easy to see him as this elder Americana legend, writing songs that transcend time and place to touch your heart or soul or life. But he was also a fun guy, with a clear vision, a deep love of home and all it stands for and an absolute sense of self that allowed the tenderness of how he saw the world to remain pretty consistent throughout the book.”
Gleason was once engaged to Prine’s co-manager, the late Dan Einstein, who also co-founded Oh Boy, Red Pajamas and Blue Plate Music. She spent many of her formative years as a nationally recognized music critic in Prine’s world, and later provided media strategy and services for his albums In Spite of Ourselves and Fair & Square.
Prine On Prine is the latest edition from Gleason’s portfolio. She created, edited and contributed to Woman, Walk The Line, the 2018 Belmont Book Award-winning collection of essays about how female country artists profoundly impact individual lives. She is also a co-author of Miranda Lambert’s recent New York Times best-seller Y’All Eat Yet: Welcome to the Pretty B*tchin Kitchen.
“It has been the craziest year! It felt like the Miranda book debuting at No. 3 on The New York Times Best Seller list was as good as it could get, but seeing the cover of Prine On Prine took my breath away. That book was a labor of love with my dear friend Dan Einstein, who’s now up in heaven with John, looking down and laughing at me most likely… and it suddenly feels very real,” Gleason says.
Gleason’s work has recently been recognized by the Los Angeles Press Club. She is nominated for five of their Southern California Media Awards at this weekend’s awards, including Entertainment Journalist of the Year and Music Criticism. Gleason’s Library of Congress essay on Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man” is up for Entertainment Commentary and her Pollstar cover story on Dolly Parton is competing for Entertainment News Feature.
“To have Prine On Prine announced on the brink of the Southern California Media Awards is a full circle moment,” Gleason says. “I grew up and into a music critic in LA, writing for Tower Pulse, Bam, Musician, Creem, Mix and Rolling Stone when it was once every two weeks. John used to get such a kick either asking me what I was chasing, or telling me about something I’d written he read, and now I’m nominated for some major awards from the LA Press Club. He’d probably love that as much as this book.”
Gleason adds, “At a time when publications are evaporating, changing their dynamics and just not making music a priority, these nominations make me feel like less of a fool for reporting as hard as I do. I know sometimes the subjects find me tedious, but I’ve grateful they’re tolerant. The Dolly and Miranda nominations for Feature and Breaking News feature speak to my mission to call attention, but also real meaning to women in the country space; but seeing Tammy Wynette and “Stand By Your Man” honored for Arts Commentary for the Library of Congress essay thrills me for Tammy.”
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