John Prine Songs For The Acoustic

John Prine Songs For The Acoustic Guitar Player

Here on this John Prine songs for the acoustic guitar player page you'll find a collection of John Prine covers as I play them on the acoustic as well as free chord sheets in downloadable .pdf format. If you need full instructional tutorials, you can pick those up for a small fee.

You'll notice I'm using John Prine album covers as images to indicate which album the song can be found.

 Born - October 10, 1946 – Died April 7, 2020 - (age 73)


John Prine Songs
PDF's, Demos, Chords, Tutorials

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1. Crazy As A Loon

John co-wrote this song with his guitar player Pay McLaughlin and the song can be found on his 2005 "Fair & Square" album.

At the 48th Annual Grammy Awards this album won a Grammy for the Best Contemporary  Folk Album.

John co-wrote this with his guitar player Pat McLaughlin.

  • Drop D Tuning = No
  • Capo = 2nd fret
  • Rhythm = a steady root up  down up root  up down up pattern
  • Picking = Yes
  • Chords = G, C and D
Chords & Lyrics

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2. Fish & Whistle

This song is about a tragic event that happened when John was an alter boy and one morning on the way to church, discovered that a local boy got hit from behind by a train while walking on the train tracks.

This song hails from the album Bruised Orange from 1978.

  • Drop D Tuning = No
  • Capo = No
  • Rhythm = a simple root up down up and at the end of the verse and chorus play a double downstroke
  • Picking = Yes
  • Chords = G, C, D and an A7
Chords & Lyrics

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3. Glory Of True Love

John Prine co-wrote this song with Roger Cook and it is from his Fair And Square album from 2005.

To my knowledge this song was never released as a single. Actually, John Prine only ever released around 6 single throughout his entire musical career.

  • Drop D Tuning = No
  • Capo = 2nd fret
  • Rhythm = rhythm pattern of root down up down up down up and repeat
  • Picking = room for a picking break
  • Chords = G, C, D and an F
Chords & Lyrics

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4. Illegal Smile

This song hails from John Prine's debut album "John Prine" from 1971. This song isn't about smoking dope. John said he wrote the song about himself smiling at things that many people never smiled at while he was growing up.

But it happened to fit well with the hippie movement who sort of adopted the song and John never bothered to explain the true source of the song.

  • Drop D Tuning = No
  • Capo = No
  • Rhythm = The first is a root down up root up down up while sing the faster verse and then changes to a root down down up root down down up in the chorus
  • Picking = No
  • Chords = C, G6, Am, F, G
Chords & Lyrics

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5. Iron Ore Betty

A song about a female construction worker who just happened to spend about 90 minutes with someone John Prine knew in the music biz as they stood in a hotel parking lot having a conversation.

I guess she recognized John's friend and needed a work break in a trailer nearby.  

  • Drop D Tuning = No
  • Capo = No
  • Rhythm = The pattern is root up down up root up down up root up down down but you're only playing the string on the root and on the ending down down.
  • Picking = Yes
  • Chords = G, C, C7, A7 and a D7
Chords & Lyrics

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6. It's A Big Old Goofy World

John's mother Verna liked to play crossword puzzles and that was his inspiration for this song from his 1991 album "Missing Years".

  • Drop D Tuning = No
  • Capo = No
  • Rhythm = a pretty familiar strumming pattern which is a root down up root up down up and then repeat
  • Picking = Yes
  • Chords = G, C and D
Chords & Lyrics

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7. Killing The Blues

This song was written by Roly Salley who happens to be the bass player for Chris Isaak. Several artists have recorded this song including Shooter Jennings, Robert Plant, Billy Ray Cyrus and others.

The song can be found on the 1979 album "Pink Cadillac".

  • Drop D Tuning = No
  • Capo = No
  • Rhythm = a nice and easy shuffle with a steady right up and down movement allowing you you to put some accents in a few places on your downstrokes
  • Picking = Yes
  • Chords = G, C, D and in one spot near the end, a Db

Chords & Lyrics

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8. Knocking On Your Screen Door

John Prine's last album came out in 2018 called "The Tree Of Forgiveness" and this song is a track from that last album.

  • Drop D Tuning = No
  • Capo = 4th fret
  • Rhythm = a simple root down up down up down up root down up down up down up and repeat
  • Picking = Yes
  • Chords = G, C and D

Chords & Lyrics

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9. Lonesome Friends Of Science

This song appears on John Prine's 2018 album "The Tree Of Forgiveness". The Lonesome Friends Of Science chords and lyrics are below.

  • Drop D Tuning = No
  • Capo = No
  • Rhythm = a root down root up down up  and repeat works here
  • Picking = No
  • Chords = C, G, F, G7, Am
Chords & Lyrics

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10. Magnolia Wind

This song was written by Shawn Camp and Guy Clark. In 2011, a tribute album was put together for Guy Clark and John Prine and Emmylou Harris recorded this song as part of that tribute album.

Guy Clarks version of this song can be found in his album of 2002 called "The Dark".

  • Drop D Tuning = No
  • Capo = 1st fret
  • Rhythm = a root down up down up bass down up down up pattern
  • Picking = Yes
  • Chords = C, G, F and an A#
Chords & Lyrics

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11. My Darlin Hometown

This song hails form John Prine's 2008 album "Fair & Square" and was written by John Prine and Roger Cook. . The song was never released as a single.

  • Drop D Tuning = No
  • Capo = No
  • Rhythm = a root down up down up root down up down up strumming pattern
  • Picking = Yes
  • Chords = D, Em, A7, G and an E7
Chords & Lyrics

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12. My Old Man

Steve Goodman wrote this song approx 6 months after his father Bud Goodman passed away. He called John Prine from a payphone and played it for John. 

In 1986 a tribute album to Steve Goodman was put together by various artists and John Prine contributed his talent to this album and song.

  • Drop D Tuning = No
  • Capo = No
  • Rhythm = a simple shuffle rhythm pattern all the way through
  • Picking = Yes
  • Chords = G, C and D
Chords & Lyrics

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13. Paradise

This song appears on his debut album from 1971. In the song John makes reference that he wants his ashes spread in the Green River in Kentucky where the town of Paradise Ky is located.

When John passed in 2020, half of his ashes were released in the river and the other half buried next to his parents.

John wrote the song for his father and put it on his debut album. Download the Paradise John Prine chords and lyrics sheet below.

  • Drop D Tuning = Yes
  • Capo = No
  • Rhythm = play either a root down down root down down pattern or use a root down up down up root down up down up for the strumming and both will work
  • Picking = No
  • Chords = D, A7, G
Chords & Lyrics

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14. Sam Stone

Sam Stone appeared on the 1971 debut album by John Prine and addresses the addiction issue that seems to consume many war veterans after returning from a war environment.

This song is mainly addressing heroin addiction. 

  • Drop D Tuning = No
  • Capo = 3rd fret
  • Rhythm = the rhythm pattern you'll want here is a root down up root up down up and then just carry it through the song
  • Picking = Yes
  • Chords = D, A7, G, Em, B7, Bm
Chords & Lyrics

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15. Souvenirs

Souvenirs appears on the John Prine album from 2000 of the same name. Apparently the album was originally intended for release to German audiences only.

Download the John Prine Souvenirs chords and lyrics sheet below.

  • Drop D Tuning = Yes
  • Capo = 2nd fret
  • Rhythm = challenge here is to arpeggio the strings so it's as if you're finger-picking the melody while playing. A root up down up root up down up pattern will work if that's all you intend to do. But as you'll see, I'm throwing in upstrokes in certain places to try and duplicate some finger-picking.
  • Picking = No
  • Chords = D, A7, G
Chords & Lyrics

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16. The Oldest Baby In The World

This song can be found on the John Prine live album from 1988 which was taped over a 3 day period the The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, California.

John co-wrote this song with Donnie Fritts, who played keyboard for Kris Kristofferson for more than 40 years.

  • Drop D Tuning = No
  • Capo = No
  • Rhythm = a root down up down up root down up down up pattern
  • Picking = Yes
  • Chords = C, F, D7, G, G6 and an Am
Chords & Lyrics

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17. Unwed Fathers

John Prine and Bobby Bradcock co-wrote this in 1984, the day after the Superbowl. John said he had 15 titles written down and read them off. As soon as Bradcock heard the title, lights went off and they got to work.

This song appears on the 1984 album "Aimless Love".

  • Drop D Tuning = No
  • Capo = No
  • Rhythm = root down up root up down up will work
  • Picking = yes a little
  • Chords = G, C, D, D7
Chords & Lyrics

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On this John Prine greatest guitar songs page I've covered over a dozen songs as they relate to strumming patterns and tunings. You have access to my free demos and downloadable pdf chords and lyrics sheets and a purchase link if you need more instruction.

I hope you found some helpful information here and if you choose to share this page with the social media icons that would be much appreciated. Thank you.


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Official John Prine Website

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