Saturday, April 11, 2020

"Paradise" and "Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore", by John Prine

Even at 24, on his first album, John Prine twice imagined his own death – or at least wrote songs in which the narrator does. "Paradise" ends with a final return to the Green River in western Kentucky, one focus of the song's memories: "When I die, let my ashes float down the Green River." If this conservationist song criticizes the Peabody Coal Company, "Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore" challenges easy patriotism – with the speaker dying in a car accident when his "window shield" gets "so filled with flags I couldn't see." In each case, imagining the narrator's death adds a final twist to the song's sociopolitical critique. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 11 April)

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