JOHN TRAIN: “Where Were We (For John Prine)”


Here’s a link to a brand new John Train song called “Where Were We? (for John Prine).” The lyrics and credits are in the description as well as a link to my Phawker piece on Prine.

I first encountered Prine via my father’s record collection (which is how I discovered the majority of music that still means the most to me!). He had a copy of Common Sense which remains my second favorite Prine LP (Aimless Love from 1984 has always been my number one). I first saw Prine live in 1988, opening up for Johnny Cash at the Ritz in NYC. This is before Cash was “rediscovered” by Rick Rubin and he was still doing his corny family show. Lowlight: Cash’s duet with his son on “Cats In The Cradle.” Ugh! Highlight: Prine! He played solo but held everyone’s attention with his amazing catalogue of songs and wry delivery.

I wrote “Where Were We” shortly after Prine’s passing in April. I recorded a little guitar/vocal demo and sent it around to my band mates in John Train. I figured we might take a crack at it when we eventually return to duty. But, much to my surprise and delight, they somehow added themselves to the demo in the privacy of their own homes, got legendary Philly engineer (and longtime Train supporter) John Anthony to mix it … and presto! This is the first time I’ve ever been involved in this sort of thing. All of John Train’s records have been cut pretty much live in the studio, sitting around, facing one another. But I’m absolutely tickled that the boys achieved a seemingly live sound by passing files from computer to computer. Far out!

We liked the results so much we decided to put together a video. Our drummer Mark Schreiber directed, filmed, and edited the video which includes drone shots of Philly and NJ during COVID, drawings of Prine by Mike Brenner, and me singing along the banks of the Schuylkill on Kelly Drive. We did our best to maintain social distancing but at least one curious onlooker approached and asked me who I was. I replied, “Willie Nelson.” They moved along!

Jon Houlon