Donald and Lydia

Album: John Prine (1971)


  • This tells the story of two lonely people: an overweight girl who works an 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."


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