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Morning Song – Ain’t Hurting Nobody

July 14, 2017

There’s a long, scholarly essay to be written that analyzes John Prine’s “Ain’t Hurting Nobody” as a 5 minute microcosm of late 20th century American society, with particular reference to: sexual power dynamics and the male gaze, the rise of legalized gambling, the expanding prison-industrial complex, the commodification (and enduringly subversive power) of popular music, the lingering influence of segregated public facilities, and the brutality of industrialized agriculture as pieces of the crumbling myth of American innocence.

But it is not this essay.

This essay has more modest aims—sending you into a summer weekend, enjoying the myriad pleasures* to be found in an obscure 8 bar blues song you probably haven’t heard in years…if at all.

*Among them: that Hammond B-3 organ with its slightly off-center stops pulled out, the sweetly mournful sound of a slide guitar, simple piano chords, the rhythm section’s groove—seemingly both effortless and inevitable, vocal harmonies drawn from the church and the saloon, and Prine’s endlessly inventive multi-layered word play.

 

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