John Prine faced an uncertain future as he prepared to graduate high school in the mid-1960s. Growing up in Maywood, Illinois, Prine quietly considered himself a songwriter, but he’d yet to play his songs for anyone. He was a skilled gymnast, which he thought might lead to college and a career in broadcast journalism, but “my grades were too ugly,” he said. “I could’ve gotten a gymnastics scholarship probably to Pennsylvania or Illinois, ‘cause they had really good gymnastic programs. But my grades just weren’t up there.”