Donald and Lydia

Album: John Prine (1971)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • "Donald and Lydia" tells the story of two lonely people: an overweight girl who works at an arcade, and a young soldier who "made love from ten miles away."
  • Prine told Performing Songwriter how he came up with the title names: "I had a book with names for babies. I actually called out names from the book, like you call the kids to dinner, trying to picture the person in my mind. I had Donald quick; Lydia was the tough one.

    I can always tell first-time listeners at my shows when they laugh at that line 'the fat girl daughter of Virginia and Ray.' the rest of the audience always turns and looks at them like, 'Let's see your membership card!'"
  • "In most of the ballad stuff I do I try to use a chorus like a needle and thread, to pull the song together. A lot of times I've written just with the idea of experimenting," Prine explained in a 1974 interview with Bruce Pollock. "'Donald and Lydia' - I had no idea what I was going to write about, but I knew how I was going to set the song up. I was going to set it up character by character."

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Mike Scott of The Waterboys

Mike Scott of The WaterboysSongwriter Interviews

The stories behind "Whole Of The Moon" and "Red Army Blues," and why rock music has "outlived its era of innovation."

Rick Astley

Rick AstleySongwriter Interviews

Rick Astley on "Never Gonna Give You Up," "Cry For Help," and his remarkable resurgence that gave him another #1 UK album.

Jon Anderson of Yes

Jon Anderson of YesSongwriter Interviews

From the lake in "Roundabout" to Sister Bluebird in "Starship Trooper," Jon Anderson talks about how nature and spirituality play into his lyrics for Yes.

Chris Rea

Chris ReaSongwriter Interviews

It took him seven years to recover from his American hit "Fool (If You Think It's Over)," but Chris Rea became one of the top singer-songwriters in his native UK.

Al Jourgensen of Ministry

Al Jourgensen of MinistrySongwriter Interviews

In the name of song explanation, Al talks about scoring heroin for William Burroughs, and that's not even the most shocking story in this one.

Jon Anderson

Jon AndersonSongwriter Interviews

Jon Anderson breaks down the Yes classic "Seen All Good People" and talks about his 1000 Hands album, which features Chick Corea, Rick Derringer, Ian Anderson, and many other luminaries.