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YOU CAN PLAY ALONG WITH THE VIDEOS (although we've taken out some of the instrumentals)! Thanks to Mike Cox for bringing this song to BUG! The second video below is long, the song starts half way through but it is a great movie of JP telling how he wrote this song.
The first verse of the song "Bruised Orange" was inspired by an actual incident that Prine witnessed as a boy in Illinois. As he set out early one morning to shovel the snow from the parking lot of a local church, he came upon the scene of a freak accident where a young boy was hit by a commuter train.
The random senselessness of it all clearly stuck with Prine all those years, and he pondered how people should react to it in the chorus. The instinctive reaction to “get mad and get madder” is the wrong one, he suggests, because those downbeat feelings could envelop a person until they get “Wrapped up in a trap of your very own/Chain of sorrow.”
In the second verse, Prine switches gears to show how everyone is on a rollercoaster ride of sorts, in life and love, just as likely to bask in “the diamonds in the sidewalk” as they are to wallow in the “dirt in the gutter.” The only sure thing is that every one of those experiences is going to leave a mark: “And you carry those bruises/To remind you wherever you go.”
Prine’s deadpan delivery of the song seems to second the philosophy espoused within; he refuses to get worked up even as his world-weary drawl betrays how the lack of easy answers can wear on you.
Cherry-picking a single song out of John Prine’s catalog is always difficult, but the man is so consistently good that whatever you choose is almost assuredly going to be representative of his high songwriting standards. Nonetheless, “Bruised Orange (Chain Of Sorrow)” is as good a place as any to start. Whether it’s beautifully existential or existentially beautiful, it’s a fantastic piece of work either way. (americansongwriter.com)