An Angel From Montgomery

Outside of King Harry’s win and Queen Bay’s record achievement, the headlines centered around Bonnie Raitt’s surprise steal for Song of the Year. Well, they did at first. These events breed controversy. Still, this is my family’s Super Bowl—Music City will do that to you. Weeks back, when the nominees were announced, my kid rode with me on an errand run. As I tried to be the cool dad, I asked him to play all those nominated. I don’t recall every track, but I had to turn two off for language.

Call me old fashion, but there are certain words I struggle to tolerate.

But, after listening to each, I knew it would go in Raitt’s direction. I love her break-out tune Angel from Montgomery, which is a John Prine Cover. I’d encourage everyone to listen to both versions. It’s a storyteller song where the magic of an everyday character is magnified through poetry. Simple. Elegant. Anytime I see someone perform this live, they have me hooked.

I find Raitt’s version magical because of its simplicity.

As a relative novice on the strings, the original version has the notorious F bar and a few more chord shifts. Raitt changes this by leveraging a capo on the second fret. Instead of electing for the G, C, D, F, this moves to a D, G, A, C. Personally, I like her version better. Here they play the song together using their preferred approach, which is worth more than a listen. I also love how someone can adjust the arrangement and make the performance soar. And yes, Bonnie plays the role of a woman thinking she’s older than she really is better than John. But that’s only my opinion. The old saying that art remains in the eye of the beholder rings true. Here are a few of my other favorite covers of the Prine Classic for your perusal (unless noted, they are all on Spotify).

  • Tanya Tucker. Solid. Nothing else to say.
  • Susan Tedeschi. Her vocals sell it. I see a poster for the Cody Stampede tacked on my wall.
  • Dave Matthews Band. Here, they take a simple guitar song and transcend it to a complex maestro arrangement. It’s hard to appreciate how good Tim and Dave play the guitar unless you see them live. They literally bend the strings.
  • John Mayer. I find him playing the role of a woman ironic, but I have a Taylor Swift fan in the house. You have to find this on YouTube.
  • The Young Fables (pictured above). It’s my favorite, but you have to see this live. Visit Music City.


  • Picture of the Young Fables Taken at the City Winery for the launch of their new album Pages. Give it a listen.
  • There is power in the simple song.