It's a big old goofy world view : John Prine as a modern-day Mark Twain

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Michael J. Ruwe (Creator)
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
Web Site:
Kathy Rugoff

Abstract: This thesis, entitled “It’s a Big Old Goofy World View: John Prine As a Modern-Day Mark Twain,” makes the connection between Mark Twain, the nineteenth-century writer and lecturer, and John Prine, a contemporary songwriter and performer. Like Twain, Prine views the world with joy and pity: with humor and disdain. While Twain utilizes literary techniques to advance his impressions, Prine’s musical compositions demonstrate his unique outlook. In my discussion of Prine’s songs, I will analyze not only lyrics but also musical characteristics. Lyrically, the songs demonstrate poetic characteristics and narrative devices. For this reason, I will closely examine the lyrics as one would examine poetry or prose. While musically the songs are simple, Prine’s choices of accompaniment, instrumentation, dynamics, and musical genre greatly affect how the lyrics are perceived and are no less important. Born in 1946 and recording and performing music for more than thirty-four years, Prine’s observations of the world around him reflect the attitudes and practices of modern American culture. His views on love, social issues, politics, and religion are presented in a vernacular language that is made accessible by melodies that are both poignant and memorable. Because Prine’s song, “It’s a Big Old Goofy World” is a microcosm of his world view, I have employed the lyrics to this song as a frame for each chapter. The characters which inhabit this song, and indeed many Prine songs, are described with a unique blend of wit and pathos: they can make you smile and they can break your heart.

Additional Information

A Thesis Submitted to the University of North Carolina Wilmington in Partial Fulfillment Of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts
Language: English
Date: 2009
Prine John Criticism and interpretation, Twain Mark 1835-1910--Criticism and interpretation
Prine, John. Criticism and interpretation
Twain, Mark, 1835-1910 -- Criticism and interpretation

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