Prine, 56, certainly is the poor man's something. Poet laureate comes immediately to mind. Probably no songwriter has better tapped into the spirit of common folks -- and done it in such a nonjudgmental way -- as this Chicago-area native with the deep Kentucky roots. Like Dylan, Prine has not always delivered what others have expected from him. But even those who are critical of Prine's canon can't argue that the man has ever fallen short of his own high standards. And now, with Norah Jones still looking for shelf space for her Grammys, it's worth a reminder that Prine has one of those too (he was honored in 1991 for The Missing Years). Can a lifetime-achievement award be far behind?
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