John Prine

Sam Stone

Composed by John Prine

Song Review by

John Prine's "Sam Stone was one of the most telling songs about the effect of the Vietnam War on America, written, recorded, and released while the country was still in the middle of the conflict. Strikingly, it was not specifically a protest song against the war, but rather a story-song about a soldier who came home from the war addicted to drugs. Set to a delicate melody that Prine sang over one of his characteristic fingerpicked guitar patterns, it was full of striking lines, beginning with the terrifying couplet that opens the chorus: "There's a hole in daddy's arm where all the money goes/And Jesus Christ died for nothing, I suppose." The story predictably goes downhill until "There was nothing to be done/But trade the house he bought on the G.I. Bill/For a flag-draped casket on a local heroes' hill." Stark and uncompromising, "Sam Stone" was one of the few songs that talked about the effect of the war on the soldiers who fought in it. One of Prine's best early compositions, it appeared on his self-titled debut album in 1971 as well as on Prime Prine: The Best of John Prine (1976), Live (1988), and Great Days: The John Prine Anthology (1993), and it has been included on several various-artists compilations.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
John Prine 1971 Atlantic
No Image 1972
Various Artists
Atlantic 4:14
Prime Prine: The Best of John Prine 1976 Atlantic 4:16
Storytellers: Singers & Songwriters 1987
Various Artists
Warner Bros. 4:14
Live 1988 Oh Boy
Great Days: The John Prine Anthology 1993 Rhino 4:16
Souvenirs 2000 Ulftone
Share: Songs of Hope, Awareness and Recovery for Everyone 2003
Various Artists
Compendia Music Group 4:15
Singers and Songwriters: Mavericks 2003
Various Artists
Time/Life Music
100 Hits: Country 2007
Various Artists
Super D Independent Distribution / 100 Hits / DMG TV 4:15
The Outlaw Trail Collection 2008
Various Artists
EDI Video 4:38
...Next Stop Is Vietnam: The War on Record 1961-2008 2010
Various Artists
Bear Family Records 4:17
Troubadours: Folk and the Roots Of American Music, Pt. 4 2014
Various Artists
Bear Family Records 4:17
Angels from Montgomery: 4 Essential Albums 1971-1975 2014 Raven 4:14
Bottom Line 2015 All Access 4:52
The 1970 Broadcasts 2015 Golden Rain 3:59
100 Hits: Country [2015]
Various Artists
100 Hits
Classic Country [Rhino]
Various Artists
Rhino 4:17
No Image
Various Artists
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