Deep Cuts From 1971: “Paradise”- John Prine. Someday I will get around to making my all-time Hot 100 [or 200} favorite song list- one song that will no doubt be on that list will be “Paradise” a song from John Prine’s self-titled debut album.
Paradise” is a song written by John Prine for his father, and recorded for his 1971 debut album, John Prine. Prine also re-recorded the song for his 1986 album, German Afternoons. The song is about the devastating impact of strip mining for coal, whereby the top layers of soil are blasted off with dynamite or dug away with steam shovels to reach the coal seam below. The song is also about what happened to the area around the Green River in Kentucky because of strip mining. The song references the Peabody Coal Company, and a town called Paradise in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, where the Tennessee Valley Authority operated the Paradise Fossil Plant, a coal-fired electric generating station. The area has suffered serious economic downturn because of the decline of coal mining, caused mainly by the abundance of natural gas. Paradise Fossil Plant Units 1 and 2 went on-line in 1963 and were retired in 2017; Unit 3 went on-line in 1970 and was retired in 2020. In the song Prine asks to have his ashes dispersed on the Green River. After his death in 2020 this wish was fulfilled. TVA replaced the Fossil Plant with the natural-gas fired Paradise Combined Cycle Plant.