Angel from Montgomery
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|"Angel from Montgomery"|
|Song by John Prine from the album John Prine|
|Recorded||American Recording Studios, Memphis, Tennessee|
|John Prine track listing|
John Prine wrote "Angel from Montgomery" after a friend suggested writing "another song about old people", referring to Prine's song "Hello In There." Although Prine had "said everything I wanted to [about seniors] in 'Hello In There'" he was intrigued by the idea of "a song about a middle-aged woman who feels older than she is...[Eventually] I had this really vivid picture of this woman standing over the dishwater with soap in her hands....She wanted to get out of her house and her marriage and everything. She just wanted an angel to come to take her away from all this." Prine believes he was likely drawn to Montgomery as the song's setting by virtue of being a fan of Hank Williams, who had ties to that city. "Angel from Montgomery" is a concert staple of Hank Williams' granddaughter Holly Williams.
Angel From Montgomery was the original title of the Cherie Bennett/Jeff Gottesfeld screenplay that became the 2006 film Broken Bridges. The screenplay's setting of Montgomery, TN was changed to the fictitious Armour Springs in the film.
The song is also used in the film Who Bombed Judi Bari?.
Introduced on Prine's 1971 self-titled debut album, "Angel from Montgomery" was recorded in 1972 by Carly Simon in her first session for the No Secrets album which was produced by Paul Buckmaster and featured James Taylor's vocals and Danny Kortchmar on guitar. Simon recalls: "Elektra rejected [the tracks from that session] and...asked me to work with Richard Perry. [Elektra] didn't think Buckmaster would produce a hit record for me." Simon did perform "Angel from Montgomery" on a July 26, 1972, broadcast of The David Steinberg Show but her recorded version was not issued until 1995 on the box set release Clouds in My Coffee with the track touched up with a harmony vocal by Simon and a vocal addition from Ben Taylor as well as a string part which had been an intended feature of the 1972 track if completed.
Recorded by Bonnie Koloc for her 1972 album Hold on to Me, "Angel from Montgomery" had its first high-profile artist cover in 1973 when John Denver included the song on his Farewell Andromeda (as "Angels from Montgomery") but it was via the version by Bonnie Raitt on her 1974 album Streetlights that the song first attained wide recognition. In a 2000 interview Raitt stated: "I think 'Angel from Montgomery' probably has meant more to my fans and my body of work than any other song, and it will historically be considered one of the most important ones I've ever recorded. It's just such a tender way of expressing that sentiment of longing - like 'Hello In There' - without being maudlin or obvious. It has all the different shadings of love and regret and longing. It's a perfect expression from [a] wonderful genius."
On her 1995 live disc Road Tested on which "Angel from Montgomery" serves as concert finale, Raitt is joined on the song by Bryan Adams, Jackson Browne, Bruce Hornsby and Kim Wilson. Besides duetting on "Angel from Montgomery" with John Prine at a 1985 tribute concert to Steve Goodman (Prine and Goodman, along with Bonnie Koloc, had been considered the "trinity of the Chicago folk scene"), Raitt has performed the song with Rickie Lee Jones at the original Farm Aid benefit concert held 22 September 1985 in Champaign, Illinois and at the We the Planet Festival on 20 April 2003 at the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco Raitt duetted on "Angel From Montgomery" with Tracy Chapman.
Keller Williams performed the song at one of his earliest recorded shows, at Fin's in Virginia Beach, on Oct. 4, 1994. 
Funk supergroup Cameo frequently performs a version of the song as a tribute to Prine's influence on their songwriting.
"Angel from Montgomery" is performed in the film Into the Wild by the characters Tracy Tatro (Kristen Stewart) and Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch). It does not appear on the soundtrack album. The chorus is also sung briefly in the film Courage Under Fire by the character Captain Karen Emma Walden (portrayed by Meg Ryan) during one of the flashback sequences.
The song was also heard on the live television benefit broadcast on CMT May 12, 2011, performed by Gretchen Wilson. The "Music Builds" concert and fundraiser was to benefit the American Red Cross in the wakes of disaster relief pursuant to the floods and tornadoes throughout the Southeastern United States in April and May 2011.
Other recorded versions
- Tanya Tucker TNT (Tanya Tucker album) 1978
- Leslie Spit Treeo Don't Cry Too Hard 1990
- Mystery Girls Mystery Girls 1991
- Ben Harper Pleasure and Pain 1992
- Dave Matthews Band Salem College 1993 (lead vocal by Boyd Tinsley)
- Susan Tedeschi Just Won't Burn 1998
- Ringsend (band) Vertigo 2001
- Kate Schutt Brokenwingtrick 2002
- Allison Scull and Victor Martin From the Back Burner 2002
- E.G. Kight Southern Comfort 2003
- The Residues Last Man Alive 2006
- Theo Hakola Drunk Women and Sexual Water 2007
- Matt Andersen Live at Liberty House 2007
- Jill Johnson Music Row 2007 
- Paula Nelson Band Lucky 13 2008
- Old Crow Medicine Show Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine 2010
- Alfie Boe Storyteller 2012
- John Mayer began covering this song at select concerts on his 2014 spring tour.
- Bonnie Raitt Road Tested 1995
- John Denver "Farewell Andromeda"
- Brandi Carlile Live on Wits podcast 2015
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Streetlights". Allmusic. Retrieved 2007-07-24.
- "Movie Filming Locations". Tn52.com. Retrieved 2013-03-17.
- Billboard vol 107 #48 (December 2, 1995) p.101
- "Steve Goodman Tribute - Chicago Tribune". Articles.chicagotribune.com. 1985-01-05. Retrieved 2013-03-17.
- "Svensk mediedatabas". Retrieved 24 May 2011.
- "Wits podcast episode #89".