John Prine and the Grascals at the FOX Theater.

10 years after surviving mouth cancer, John Prine is still a consumate performer. After an opening salvo by the Grascals, an allstar bluegrass ensemble who had the audience jumping to their feet like headliners, Prine took the stage for a 2 1/2 hour non-stop anthology of the last 45 years. I last saw him about 5 years before his cancer, and the change in his voice was evident, but took nothing from the experience. Somehow he managed to play every song I was hoping to hear, many I had never heard, and still surprise me with tunes I had loved but forgotten. From the reaction of the audience, the feeling was universal.

He played this song, which will always be sadly topical…

Flag Decal

While digesting Reader’s Digest
In the back of a dirty book store
A plastic flag with gum on the back
Fell out on the floor.
Well,I picked it up and ran outside
And slapped it on my windowshield.
And If I could see ol’ Betsy Ross
I’d tell her how good I feel.

(Chorus:)
But, your flag decal won’t get you
Into Heaven anymore.
They’re already overcrowded
From your dirty little war
Now Jesus don’t like Killin’
No matter what the reasons for.
And your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore.

Well,I went to the Bank this morning
And the cashier said to me
If you join the Christmas Club
We’ll give you ten of them flags for free.
I didn’t mess a round a bit
I took him up on what he said
And stuck them stickers all over my car
And one on my wife’s forehead.

(Chorus:)
But, your flag decal won’t get you
Into Heaven anymore.
They’re already overcrowded
From your dirty little war
Now Jesus don’t like Killin’
No matter what the reasons for.
And your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore.

Well,I got my windshield so filled with flags I couldn’t see
So I ran my car upside a curb and right into a tree
By the time they got a doctor down
I was already dead,
And I’ll never understand
Why the man,
Standing in the Pearly Gates said…

(Chorus:)
But your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore,
We’re already overcrowded from your dirty little war
Now Jesus don’t like killin’
No matter what the reasons for.
And your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore.

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