Appalachia Music

Worn Memories

worn glass in lake

“There’s a backwards ole town that’s often remembered, so many times that my memories are worn.”

“Paradise” – John Prine


I’ve always liked the old John Prine song called “Paradise.” Pap and Paul tried to sing it a couple of times, but somehow we never got the hang of it and gave up trying for some other song.

Jim and Jesse did a great cut of the song. You can hear it here.

I shared my favorite line of the song at the top of this post. Studying on it makes me wonder why our memories don’t just wear away. Sad to think of our favorite memories wearing away to nothing, but I think it’d be a blessing if the bad ones would just get used up to never haunt our days and nights again.


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  • Reply
    Robert A. wasmer
    April 13, 2022 at 5:12 pm

    Different kind of memories, but really like Hazel Dickens “Just a few old memories.”

  • Reply
    October 9, 2018 at 8:41 pm

    I used to do that song 🙂 I’ve always loved John Prine – saw him play more than once.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 9, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    I have studied your photo all day. That’s why my comment is so late. That picture jumped into my head without explaining itself. All day I have tried to figure where it fits. It just dawned on me. Watch this Jump over to 1:20 if you don’t want to listen to all of it. There is is!
    Speaking of memories, they don’t ever wear down, they just find better places to hide.

  • Reply
    Gary Powell
    October 9, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    This song always makes lump in my throat. I only live about an hour from Muhlenburg county, so I see effects of coal shovels often. Sometimes, if you don’t know what to look for it is hard to see where they have been. I do remember seeing the huge shovel at work.

  • Reply
    October 9, 2018 at 12:02 pm

    So many beautiful and poignant thoughts expressed today. You and today’s other “commenters” are the heart and soul of Appalachia.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    October 9, 2018 at 11:32 am

    I love Jim and Jesse McReynolds and I love to hear them sing. I always thought Chitter, Chatter, and Paul did an excellent job on “Walking my Lord up Calvary’s Hill”. And your Bass playing was excellent too. Pap told me once that You picked up Bass Playin’ faster than anyone he ever knew. Dad’s are like that. …Ken

  • Reply
    Jan C.
    October 9, 2018 at 11:19 am

    I, my son and a friend sing this one often when we sing at area events. It’s one of our favorites. My husband and I drove out to Muhlenburg county a few years ago. Sad to see where Paradise once was. Did enjoy seeing the Green river.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    October 9, 2018 at 10:08 am

    Jim & Jesse did a fine job on this song, it is definitely one of my favorites. A cousin of Jim Casada and mine used to play with Jim & Jesse but I don’t know if he’s playing on this album.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    October 9, 2018 at 9:52 am

    Jon Prine is one of my favorites and his voice so unique I would think it hard to sing something he had already done, This version is quite surprisingly good as I have heard few remakes that I really liked.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 9, 2018 at 8:46 am

    You all ever notice how, over time, the good memories tend to preserve better than the other kind. And any bad mix in the good memories tends to fade. That sort of wearing away is a blessing.

    Your picture reminds me of sea glass, all frosted-looking from tumbling in the surf and being ground by the sand. Even though it is just glass it somehow takes on a different identity and meaning. Maybe we sorta think of it as an allegory for life?

  • Reply
    October 9, 2018 at 8:04 am

    It is a wonderful thing when you can write poetry or song that describes the soul of Appalachia. I must agree with Charles Emory Howell that Hazel Dickens was totally connected. That leaves out a lot, however, as I have just begun to learn about some of these great Appalachian songwriters. I am just beginning to learn about John Parish through your blog.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 9, 2018 at 7:31 am

    I like the picture, Tip. I try to think of those worn memories like that piece of colored glass tumbled in the creek of life till they become things of beauty that no longer have edges rough enough to cut my soul any more.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    October 9, 2018 at 7:29 am

    I’m a tremendous fan of John Prine’s songwriting. A fair bit of it is quite dark, but it touches the soul and lays bare truths of life. Of all his myriad efforts, “Paradise” is my favorite. The annual conference of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association ends each year with an extended session of pickin’ & grinnin’, and without fail this song will be one of those sung by the group.
    There are hints throughout Prine’s songs that he had “been there.” In this particular one the lyrics “where the air smelled like snakes” leave no doubt of his familiarity with the subject.

    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    aw griff
    October 9, 2018 at 7:18 am

    I’ve always liked the song too.
    Back about 1970, I was in Muhlenburg county while the giant shovels were stripping the land. It looked awful! Some of the locals called the county the upside down county. Twenty years later I drove through the county and they had done a good job of reclaiming the land but it didn’t look natural.

  • Reply
    Charles Emory Howell
    October 9, 2018 at 6:59 am

    Love John Prine.

  • Reply
    Charles Emory Howell
    October 9, 2018 at 6:53 am

    I love John Prine. He is up there with Hank Williams as the greatest American Song Writer of my time. But Hazel Dickens is my absolute Hero. She seems connected to the Soul of Appalachia more than anyone and her songs evoke feelings in me that no other Poet can. Her song “Hills of Home” begins with the line “There ain’t much that’s left here that ain’t all worn down. Gone are the memories of old familiar sounds” and continues with “These old hills that have been passed by, they’ve seen their share of leaving in their time.” ” There are some things memories can’t bring home.” For me, memories of the almost abandoned Sawmill town of my birth, Slaty Fork West Virginia, Cass, and Pocahontas County, the birthplace of rivers, will fade, perhaps, but will never die. Hazel’s line, “Don’t you wish you’d never gone?” is uncompromising grief, regret, deep sadness for what was, and like Hank Williams “Did you ever see a Robin weep when leaves begin to die?” brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. Memories are precious, as another song says, and the other side of despair is Joy. Here’s to ancient Appalachia and Joyful memories that fill my Soul. Time itself is relative, Einstein said. “The past didn’t go anywhere” Utah Phillips taught. I live in Ancient Appalachia daily says me.

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