Angel From Montgomery

Album: John Prine (1971)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • John Prine would often assume a character for his songs and sing them in the first person, even if that character is a woman. "Angel From Montgomery" begins:

    I am an old woman named after my mother

    The woman in the song is looking for meaning in her life, which has gotten quite dull. She dreams of turning into an angel or becoming a rodeo poster - anything that could make her feel special.

    Prine had no misgivings about assuming a female character. As a writer, he felt he could be any gender.
  • Prine got help writing this song from his friend Eddie Holstein. They set out to write a song together, and Holstein suggested it be about old people, similar to another song Prine wrote called "Hello In There." Prince didn't want to do that, but hit on the idea to write about "a middle-aged woman who feels older than she is."

    "I had this really vivid picture of this woman standing over the dishwater with soap in her hands and just walking away from it all," Prine said in the book More Songwriters On Songwriting. "I just kept that whole idea image in mind when I was writing the song, and I just let it pour out of that character's heart."
  • Prine was working as a mailman when he wrote this song. After doing two years in the Army, he took the job and loved it because he could think up songs while walking his route. The track appeared on his first album, which made him a star in the Chicago folk music community.
  • Why is the song set in Montgomery? Prine didn't know for sure, but he thought he may have chosen the city of Montgomery, Alabama, because it was home to Hank Williams.
  • Bonnie Raitt, a huge John Prine fan, has been performing this song since the '70s, often duetting on it with Prine. In 2020, Raitt sang it at the Grammy Awards, where Prine was honored with a Lifetime Achievement award. "John Prine, who is sitting right over there, wrote 'Angel From Montgomery' and so many other songs that changed my life," Raitt said.

    Raitt told Uncut magazine that "as a young feminist, the idea that this young man could inhabit the world of a middle-aged woman in a thankless marriage really resonated with me."
  • In 2018, Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court after contentious hearings in which he was accused of sexual assault. On October 5, when it was announced Kavanaugh had enough votes to be confirmed, Prine dedicated the song to the women in the audience at his Ryman Auditorium performance in Nashville. "It's a sad, sad day when women can't be believed," he said.

Comments: 7

  • Chris from Little RockIt's about middle age? I was convinced its about a old woman on her deathbed on life support and ready for it to be over to be made an angel.
    "Flies in the kitchen, I can hear buzzing. Ain't done nothing since I woke today"
    That line sounds like a dying or dead person then when you have the old woman recounting her life saying make me angel. Sounds like she's dead or dying
  • Bob from PortlandReal depressing song!
  • Sara From Washington from WashingtonWhy are some versions of the song : " if dreams were THUNDER, and LIGHTNING were desire" ? I see so many pages that are quoting the lyrics to his song but incorrectly it seems? and the remakes seem to sing it backwards as well. Just curious!
  • Mary M from MichiganJohn Prine, I am an old woman named after my mother
    My old man is another child that's grown old
    If dreams were lightning, thunder were desire
    This old house would have burnt down a long time ago

    Make me an angel that flies from Montgomery
    Make me a poster of an old rodeo
    Just give me one thing that I can hold on to
    To believe in this living is just a hard way to go

    When I was a young girl well, I had me a cowboy
    He weren't much to look at, just free rambling man
    But that was a long time and no matter how I try
    The years just flow by like a broken down dam

    Make me an angel that flies from Montgomery
    Make me a poster of an old rodeo
    Just give me one thing that I can hold on to
    To believe in this living is just a hard way to go

    There's flies in the kitchen I can hear 'em there buzzing
    And I ain't done nothing since I woke up today
    How the hell can a person go to work in the morning
    And come home in the evening and have nothing to say

    Make me an angel that flies from Montgomery
    Make me a poster of an old rodeo
    Just give me one thing that I can hold on to
    To believe in this living is just a hard way to Go
  • Joe Cortez from Delaware, UsaIt is sad that Tara Reade is not believed.
  • Bill from Us"how the hell can a person,
    go to work in the morning,
    come home in the evening
    and have nothing to say?

    Man that man could write some songs. You can see them, you can feel the characters, they are your relatives!
    If he didn't put them to tunes you can't stop humming, they are still great poetry.
    THAT is a songwriter.
  • Mavis from Upper Great LakesRest In Peace, John Prine. Thank you for giving us this evocative song.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Def Leppard Quiz

Def Leppard QuizMusic Quiz

Can you name Def Leppard's only #1 hit in America? Get rocked with this adrenalized quiz.

Curt Kirkwood of Meat Puppets

Curt Kirkwood of Meat PuppetsSongwriter Interviews

The (Meat)puppetmaster takes us through songs like "Lake Of Fire" and "Backwater," and talks about performing with Kurt Cobain on MTV Unplugged.

Dave Mason

Dave MasonSongwriter Interviews

Dave reveals the inspiration for "Feelin' Alright" and explains how the first song he ever wrote became the biggest hit for his band Traffic.

Rufus Wainwright

Rufus WainwrightSongwriter Interviews

Rufus Wainwright on "Hallelujah," his album Unfollow The Rules, and getting into his "lyric trance" on 12-hour walks.

Gary Lewis

Gary LewisSongwriter Interviews

Gary Lewis and the Playboys had seven Top 10 hits despite competition from The Beatles. Gary talks about the hits, his famous father, and getting drafted.

Chad Channing (Nirvana, Before Cars)

Chad Channing (Nirvana, Before Cars)Songwriter Interviews

Chad tells tales from his time as drummer for Nirvana, and talks about his group Before Cars.