Angel from Montgomery
Updated: Apr 15, 2020
COVID-19 has begun to claim the lives of prominent individuals in our society. In recent days we’ve lost three prominent musical artists: Bill Withers (Lean on Me; Ain’t No Sunshine); Ellis Marsalis (jazz pianist and father of Wynton and Branford Marsalis); and John Prine (Angel from Montgomery).
As accolades began to flow about Prine, Bonnie Raitt who met Prine in the early Seventies and first covered Angel from Montgomery in 1974 said that Prine, “...was incredibly endearing, witty and that the combination of being that tender, wise and astute, mixed with his homespun sense of humor — was probably the closest thing for those of us that didn’t get the blessing of seeing Mark Twain in person.”
Bob Dylan said of Prine in a 2009 interview that, “his ‘stuff’ was pure Proustian existentialism...midwestern mind trips to the nth degree. And that he writes beautiful songs.”
Bruce Springsteen referred to himself and Prine as, “the new Dylan of the 1970s.”
For me, Prine’s Angel from Montgomery covered by Raitt became an anthem that accompanied me on my life’s journey during a road trip to Aspen, CO and as I courted my wife in the mid-1970s. To this day, that song has the ability to effortlessly transport me to another time and place whenever I hear it.
It was not lost on me that as I reflected on Prine, his body of work and the iconic “Angels...” song that my morning devotional in “Daily Strength for Men” by my friend Chris Bolinger dealt with the subject of angels.
An excerpt of the devotional is below along with a link to a four-and a half minute video of Raitt and Prine performing Angel from Montgomery together for probably the last time on November 21, 2019. Enjoy!
“Angels serve God in many ways. Amazingly, their service often is on behalf of us. In Daniel 10, the archangel Michael must relieve an angel in battle with a demon so that the angel can meet with Daniel. In Luke 2 God sends thousands of angels to announce the birth of Jesus to a group of lowly shepherds in a field near Bethlehem. At the end of the parable of the lost coin, Jesus says, “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents”.