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I used to sleep at the foot of old glory

John Prine served in the army in Germany and saw too many friends come home from Vietnam broken down by war. He wrote “Sam Stone” about a veteran whose life is destroyed by shell-shock and morphine addiction, and “Hello in There,” in which an old man reflects on the loneliness of aging:

We Lost Davy in the Korean War
And I still don’t know what for
Doesn’t matter anymore

Prine has always been good for an inspired title. Another favorite is his “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore.”

Ultimately, on a morning when I don’t really know how to feel, I’m thinking of another song from Prine, “The Great Compromise.” Commenting on the song for his Great Days collection, Prine wrote, “I love America. I just don’t know how to get there anymore.”

I knew a girl who was almost a lady
She had a way with all the men in her life
Every inch of her blossomed in beauty
And she was born on the fourth of July
Well she lived in an aluminum house trailer
And she worked in a juke box saloon
And she spent all the money I give her
Just to see the old man in the moon

I used to sleep at the foot of Old Glory
And awake in the dawn’s early light
But much to my surprise
When I opened my eyes
I was a victim of the great compromise