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"Angel from Montgomery"
Song by John Prine
from the album John Prine
ReleasedJanuary 1, 1971
StudioAmerican Recording Studios, Memphis, Tennessee
Songwriter(s)John Prine
Producer(s)Arif Mardin

"Angel from Montgomery" is a song written by John Prine,[1] originally appearing on his self-titled 1971 album John Prine. The song has been covered extensively by various artists.


John Prine wrote "Angel from Montgomery" after a friend suggested writing "another song about old people," referring to Prine's song "Hello in There." Although Prine had "said everything I wanted to [about seniors] in 'Hello in There'" he was intrigued by the idea of "a song about a middle-aged woman who feels older than she is...[Eventually] I had this really vivid picture of this woman standing over the dishwater with soap in her hands...She wanted to get out of her house and her marriage and everything. She just wanted an angel to come to take her away from all this." Prine believes he likely was drawn to Montgomery as the song's setting by virtue of being a fan of Hank Williams, who had ties to that city.[2] "Angel from Montgomery" is a concert staple of Hank Williams' granddaughter Holly Williams.

Angel from Montgomery was the original title of the Cherie Bennett/Jeff Gottesfeld screenplay that became the 2006 movie Broken Bridges. The screenplay's setting of Montgomery was changed to the fictitious Armour Springs in the movie.[3]

The song is used in the film Who Bombed Judi Bari?. It is also used, sung by Trevor Long, in the last episode of the series Ozark (TV series). In 2021, it was ranked at No. 350 on Rolling Stone's "Top 500 Greatest Songs of All Time".[4]

Other versions

Introduced on Prine's 1971 self-titled debut album, "Angel from Montgomery" was recorded in 1972 by Carly Simon in her first session for No Secrets, produced by Paul Buckmaster and featuring James Taylor's vocals and Danny Kortchmar on guitar. Simon recalls: "Elektra rejected [the tracks from that session] and...asked me to work with Richard Perry. [Elektra] didn't think Buckmaster would produce a hit record for me." Simon's version did not surface until she released her 1995 box set, Clouds in My Coffee, for which the track was finally mixed and mastered.[5]

Recorded by Bonnie Koloc for her 1972 album Hold on to Me, "Angel from Montgomery" had its first high-profile artist cover in 1973 when John Denver included the song on his Farewell Andromeda (as "Angels from Montgomery") but it was via the version by Bonnie Raitt on her 1974 album Streetlights that the song first attained wide recognition. In a 2000 interview, Raitt stated: "I think 'Angel from Montgomery' probably has meant more to my fans and my body of work than any other song, and it will historically be considered one of the most important ones I've ever recorded. It's just such a tender way of expressing that sentiment of longing - like 'Hello in There' - without being maudlin or obvious. It has all the different shadings of love and regret and longing. It's a perfect expression from [a] wonderful genius."[6]

On her 1995 live disc Road Tested on which "Angel from Montgomery" serves as concert finale, Raitt is joined on the song by Bryan Adams, Jackson Browne, Bruce Hornsby and Kim Wilson. Besides a duet on "Angel from Montgomery" with John Prine at a 1985 tribute concert[7] to Steve Goodman (Prine and Goodman, along with Bonnie Koloc, had been considered the "trinity of the Chicago folk scene"), Raitt has performed the song with Rickie Lee Jones at the original Farm Aid benefit concert held 22 September 1985 in Champaign, Illinois as well as at the We the Planet Festival on 20 April 2003 at the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco with Tracy Chapman.

Keller Williams performed the song at one of his early recorded shows at Fin's in Virginia Beach on Oct. 4, 1994.[8]

"Angel from Montgomery" is performed in the film Into the Wild by the characters Tracy Tatro (Kristen Stewart) and Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch). It does not appear on the soundtrack album. The chorus is sung briefly in the film Courage Under Fire by the character Captain Karen Emma Walden (portrayed by Meg Ryan) during one of the flashback sequences.

The song was heard on the live television benefit broadcast on CMT May 12, 2011, performed by Gretchen Wilson. The Music Builds concert and fundraiser was to benefit the American Red Cross in the wakes of the floods and tornadoes throughout the Southeastern United States in April and May 2011.

Ruth Langmore imagines her late father, uncle and cousin performing the song in a wistful scene during the final episode of the fourth and last season of the Netflix series Ozark.[9]

Recorded versions

Published versions


  1. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Streetlights". AllMusic. Retrieved 2007-07-24.
  2. ^ "JOHN PRINE: The BLUERAILROAD Interview | bluerailroad". 2012-11-22. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
  3. ^ "Movie Filming Locations". Archived from the original on 2013-03-02. Retrieved 2013-03-17.
  4. ^ Stone, Rolling; Stone, Rolling (2021-09-15). "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2022-07-18.
  5. ^ Carly Simon Official Website - Ask Carly] Archived July 4, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-08. Retrieved 2010-10-09.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Steve Goodman Tribute - Chicago Tribune". 1985-01-05. Retrieved 2013-03-17.
  8. ^ "Keller Williams Live at Fin's on 1994-10-04 : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive". Retrieved 2016-07-25.
  9. ^ Tallerico, Brian (April 29, 2022). "Ozark Series-Finale Recap: Ghosts". Vulture. New York Magazine. Retrieved May 1, 2022.
  10. ^ "Svensk mediedatabas". Retrieved 24 May 2011.
  11. ^ "Wits podcast episode #89". Retrieved 2015-11-09.