Prine, John - Illegal Smile Lyrics




When I woke up this morning, things were lookin' bad
Seem like total silence was the only friend I had
Bowl of oatmeal tried to stare me down... and won
And it was twelve o'clock before I realized
That I was havin'... no fun

[Chorus:]
But fortunately I have the key to escape reality
And you may see me tonight with an illegal smile
It don't cost very much, but it lasts a long while
Won't you please tell the man I didn't kill anyone
No I'm just tryin' to have me some fun

Last time I checked my bankroll,
It was gettin' thin
Sometimes it seems like the bottom
Is the only place I've been
I Chased a rainbow down a one-way street... dead end
And all my friends turned out to be insurance salesmen

[Chorus]

Well, I sat down in my closet with all my overalls
Tryin' to get away
From all the ears inside my walls
I dreamed the police heard
Everything I thought... what then?
Well I went to court
And the judge's name was Hoffman

Ah but fortunately I have the key to escape reality
And you may see me tonight with an illegal smile
It don't cost very much, but it lasts a long while
Won't you please tell the man I didn't kill anyone
No I'm just tryin' to have me some fun
Well done, hot dog bun, my sister's a nun

[On the 1997 LIVE ON TOUR Prine ends the song with:]
Well done, son of a gun,
Hot dog bun,
Attilla the Hun,
My sister-in-law is an Irish nun





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Prine, John Illegal Smile Comments
  1. Bingo123

    Got my joint ready now for tomorrow night's State of the Union speech (2-4-2020); if one (or more?) of the members of Congress should go berserk, I want a front seat; don't want to see any violence.... just comeuppance. Ain't it great to be alive?

  2. Shelby Smith

    Happy time's

  3. Kym Erickson.Sparks

    Congratulations on your Lifetime Grammy John. You have 'lit' my life since 1971

  4. Husia Cat

    2020 still perfect, still illegal 😉

    rudy von zippa

    am still smiling

  5. Loneamaruq

    I'm not sure why this new gen is overlooking John Prine. I thought they liked the greats? I wanna hear a John Prine Mashup with Ice Cube or Rihanna or someone like that.

  6. fiendish67

    The first time I ever heard of John Prine was when I heard this song while living in Alaska in 1995. I was 28, suicidally depressed and just hanging on. It made me laugh and spoke to me. It seemed like the person in the song was the same way. I didn't understand the real meaning of the song then. I love John Prine, his music and poetry.

  7. arbanaskocudo

    What means Hoffman , the judges name?

    William Dobson

    Abby Hoffman ??????

    arbanaskocudo

    @William Dobson dont be surprised, im not american and i dont know who is Hofmann

  8. MemeStealer115

    Im actually here because of my great uncle a few weeks ago

  9. Lesley Dale

    Reading all the comments, I realize a lot of people had dads with great taste in music!! Mine as well, Thank you daddy for introducing me to John Prine!

  10. Joe Bruceman

    My Aunt Katie, currently on her death bed, showed me this tune and Mr. Prine as a teenager. I'll never forget that. As I sit here with a tear in my eye and some smoke on my lips, I'll never forget those times.

  11. NLTDB3S

    What a funny and well crafted song , I've worn out a couple of copies of his greatest hits .. Mr. Prine is a treasure.. A great composer and wordsmith..
    Thanks for the Music John!!!
    🙏🏻🇺🇸🎸❤️🎶😍🌹🙏🏻

  12. Casper Tayari

    song is about LSD - Hoffman is the inventor of it :)

    Steve Tuck

    Hoffman... that it was an asshole judge in BG, KY back in the day?

  13. Sakshi Anand

    It's about LSD.

  14. bewareoftheleaven

    Not only did you upload this, you gave a wonderful gift by listed each musician involved. Long, long ago I was such a fan. You also gave me a memory that made me smile. Thank you so much. Oh, percussionist Heywood Bishop was wrongly named in Prine’s album.

  15. bl c

    hey john its not elllegal anymore thanks for making sence sorry for the spelling mistakes im wearing one right nom w

  16. Kamal Elshaer

    He talking bout weed now that Im older 😂or em beams

    Danielle Nelson

    In the book that came with the Anthology CDs he said that it wasn't.
    Prine explains that... the album opener "Illegal Smile" was "not about smokin’ dope. It was more about how, ever since I was a child, I had this view of the world where I can find myself smiling at stuff nobody else was smiling at. But it was such a good anthem for dope smokers that I didn’t want to stop every time I played it and make a disclaimer.

  17. PowervsDreams2000

    I love this song so much...

  18. Denny P. Museberg and Ritchie

    Listening John Prine again after years in the Phuket night.

  19. Next To Nobody

    Evil white smirking white people should be jailed.

  20. Holy Shit

    LSD FOR EVERYONE!

  21. Brooke Page

    Who thumbs down John Prine?

  22. Justin Bechmann

    My Dad and I listen to this in honor of his father. He used to play this on guitar and sing this to him

  23. Katie Ryan

    i miss when things were simple, and we all had time.

  24. DanGerbitch Jones

    First heard this when it came out in '71 and no one had ever heard of him. Kris Kristofferson took a chance and promoted him - i loved Kris so I gave John a chance. I've wore out a vinyl, a cassette and I'm workin' on wearing out a cd! :D

  25. Katie Ryan

    Always makes me happy when I feel hopeless.

  26. PapaBear

    Gotta say this. You are a piece of shit, but you can sing. I don’t like your music enough to listen if you support abortion. Fuck you, asshole.

  27. zain 011

    Why he said “it don’t “ and not “it doesn’t”?!

    Danielle Nelson

    Because he can.

  28. RevRay Green

    #NationalSmileDay

  29. 1sayanbakshi

    Maniac Netflix anyone?

  30. sun beagle

    I have seen John at Red Rocks in Morrison Colorado; also playing was Levon Helm and his band. Loved them both.

  31. Katie Moyer

    I came here for John Prine. 🕊💓🕊🌺

  32. RevRay Green

    420 2019

  33. keith short

    Love John Prine.... nobody ever heard of him but everyone loves him once turned on to him...keep it up my brother

  34. gringochucha

    My stoner country playlist so far:

    Merle Haggard - Okie from Muskogee
    Neil Young - Roll Another Number (For the Road)
    Hank Williams Jr. - Stoned At The Jukebox
    Humble Pie - Only A Roach
    Commander Cody - Down to seeds and stems again blues
    Fraternity Of Man - Don't Bogart That Joint
    Cat Mother - Strike A Match And Light Another
    John Prine - Illegal Smile
    Jim Stafford - Wildwood Weed

    Any suggestions?

  35. good vibes

    I've heard the man's name for years from my music friends when I lived in the midwest, but I never really delved into his songs. I'm a pro musician playing originals and covers at local restaurants and bars. Within the last month, two older gentlemen who didnt know each other insisted that I learn their favorite John Prine song. Strange coincidence as I haven't heard anyone mention the man's name in ten years.

  36. Ricky Reidinger

    Man, I'm stone as hell
    With a illegal smile
    Don't tell anyone!
    😎

  37. Douglas Flight

    Timeless Musical "Toke."

  38. Sonja Styblo

    Not illegal here in MA. anymore, kinda takes the fun away.

  39. Sabin Sundas

    👍👍👍👍👍👍👌👌👌👌👌

  40. Bradley Frames

    It is none of you affair what or whom I put in my body! Thanks John

  41. EgansBar1

    I, too, have the key to escape reality. Time for some fun...................

  42. Boobie Needham

    When I woke up this morning, things were lookin' bad
    Seem like total silence was the only friend I had
    Bowl of oatmeal tried to stare me down... and won
    And it was twelve o'clock before I realized
    That I was havin'... no fun

    [Chorus:]
    But fortunately I have the key to escape reality
    And you may see me tonight with an illegal smile
    It don't cost very much, but it lasts a long while
    Won't you please tell the man I didn't kill anyone
    No I'm just tryin' to have me some fun

  43. Association of Free People

    Covington Catholic

  44. Carl Johnson

    210 people need to off themselves.
    Probably the greatest weed song ever.

  45. Shane Hall

    a bowl of oatmeal tried to staring me down this morning but I won.

  46. Reilly Linehan

    Whenever I'm bummed I listen to this song and it always cheers me up

  47. Alex Mercer

    Maniacs show me you visited this !

  48. Ron Pattee

    I love my
    Pea

  49. Illegal Smile

    I love this song

  50. Panos WakeUp

    This song (originally) is about smiling like a child; for no 'big reason' and wholeheartedly. Consuming dope (and other drugs) reflects the prosthetic attempt to reach this state in a society where smiling without reason becomes illegal. So this song is not about dope. It is about not needing dope to feel happy.
    Of course it will be interpreted based on subjective experience and milieu(as every song); nevertheless it is important to keep the original message above the surface.

    "In an 2013 interview, John Prine set the record straight
    -I have to confess, the song was not about smokin’ dope. It was more about how, ever since I was a child, I had this view of the world where I can find myself smiling at stuff nobody else was smiling at. But it was such a good anthem for dope smokers that I didn’t want to stop every time I played it and make a disclaimer.
    As much as many wanted to see it – the “illegal smile” was not about dope."
    For more, look it up in genius.com

  51. Bob Bob

    I bought this album when it was new 69 or 70 so you know I'm tripping!
    Tripolar out.

  52. manic suroto li

    Maniac watcher here

  53. Karen Hall-Gist

    First John Prine album I ever bought in the 1970s.  Still LOVE it!

  54. Doctor HateLove

    Best friend's older brother used to come home from logging camp with an arm full of albums every 2 weeks. This one got worn right out down in the basement at his parent's house, playing snooker and stoking the wood stove. SHeesh!

  55. Here's The Truth

    "Illegal Smile"

    When I woke up this morning, things were lookin' bad
    Seem like total silence was the only friend I had
    Bowl of oatmeal tried to stare me down... and won
    And it was twelve o'clock before I realized
    That I was havin'... no fun

    [Chorus:]
    But fortunately I have the key to escape reality
    And you may see me tonight with an illegal smile
    It don't cost very much, but it lasts a long while
    Won't you please tell the man I didn't kill anyone
    No I'm just tryin' to have me some fun

    Last time I checked my bankroll,
    It was gettin' thin
    Sometimes it seems like the bottom
    Is the only place I've been
    I Chased a rainbow down a one-way street... dead end
    And all my friends turned out to be insurance salesmen

    [Chorus]

    Well, I sat down in my closet with all my overalls
    Tryin' to get away
    From all the ears inside my walls
    I dreamed the police heard
    Everything I thought... what then?
    Well I went to court
    And the judge's name was Hoffman

    Ah but fortunately I have the key to escape reality
    And you may see me tonight with an illegal smile
    It don't cost very much, but it lasts a long while
    Won't you please tell the man I didn't kill anyone
    No I'm just tryin' to have me some fun
    Well done, hot dog bun, my sister's a nun

    [On the 1997 LIVE ON TOUR Prine ends the song with:]
    Well done, son of a gun,
    Hot dog bun,
    Attilla the Hun,
    My sister-in-law is an Irish nun

  56. oneyedlucy

    A good old favorite from the "good old days"....

    Quinton Wright

    Yep ! Whats cool is some these youngsters been diggin it

  57. Marc Laporte

    John Prine is a treasure. What a song

  58. BRM202

    Im not here because of Maniac. Just a big John Prine fan.

    Bob Bob

    Never heard of maniac , at least not the One that got so many of you here! I came by Flag Decal, and illegal smile, and John Prine. An exfriend told me JP had died! He Lied! Those are people who lied! Those aren't people who died! (Jim Carol band Google it. )

  59. Zelios

    Here from maniac

  60. Everyday I Need Music

    'Maniac' on Netflix brought me to search this great song. 🍺🍻🍺🍺

    Jaxxon Wilcox

    Greatest songwriter of all time and that's coming from a metalhead

  61. joseph loftin

    got his autograf in the 1990's like also the speed of lonliness

  62. Sniffin Drawz

    This song is my life

  63. Bret Parker

    a great songwriter for longer than ive been alive and im 41

  64. Dominatricks75

    Love how he ends it lol

  65. Dominatricks75

    This dude skribe does a great cover of this. Its on soundcloud check it out

  66. Crystal Pope

    I have been enjoying an illegal smile since 1976. Prine's song beat me by 5 years. John Prine is the greatest songwriter of my generation and he's still kickin' ass, love me some Prine!!!

  67. MultiAntons

    Hey guys, I came from space, heard this song on this little piece of scrap powered by solar energy (pfft, pitiful technology). Like my comment, bipeds!

  68. Dicky Fox

    Maniac too

  69. Dr Dwg

    Dam good song. Some wierd show on netflix. episode 3 , end of it, this song comes on. DAMN GOOD

  70. Pretty Sure

    Is this about weed?

    Association of Free People

    Pretty Sure yeah, it’s weed

  71. Dan Manson

    I've been a huge John Prine fan for 20 years and I'm hear from Manic on Netflix.

  72. Keila Aaltonen de Blois

    Here because of maniac <3 hi from brazil

  73. David Coffey

    just dropped in from Maniac to confirm that it was John Prine....I remember the tune from the seventies....good then still good now....and I'm loving Maniac

    Josh Lewis

    I heard it faintly, n was like I know that song. Then I was like damn this show is about to be great if they're playing JP in there

  74. Mr. Eazy Peezy Lemon Squeezy

    I've come here from "Maniac" on Netflix. What a great song.

    Colin Bennett

    Well done. Hot dog bun. My sisters a nun.

    Un Known

    I have the key to escape reality!!
    I wish I had...

    - Jake -

    The best show

    The Thing at the End of the Book

    Funnily enough, despite being a big fan of country music, that was my introduction to this song (and John Prine in general!) as well.

    My lame friends were scrambling to turn it off the second the credits rolled with cries of dismay, but I was like, "hell yeah!" and looked up the episode's soundtrack there and then.

  75. Stephen Rabold

    Anybody here from "Maniac" in 2018?

    Mr. Eazy Peezy Lemon Squeezy

    Stephen Rabold Yessir

    postcaptain57

    I been here since 71 when I was in 8th grade.

  76. Jason Hernandez

    Great song

  77. Ify Ugbogu

    Here from Maniac

    Mr. Eazy Peezy Lemon Squeezy

    Ify Ugbogu Yeeeeep.

    Ify Ugbogu

    Von Willbert such a good tv show!!!

  78. Tommy Sherrod

    I was born in 2000 still think some of the best music made

    Bob Bob

    It's nice to think in music and in some of the best ! Couldn't be better!

  79. mary sweeney

    I love you John Prine

  80. Vicki jenkins

    I guess he makes sense ..... ??? Dig his style tho ;-)

  81. taxi frank channel

    it did not kill anyone......lol

  82. MedSou

    Beautiful ❤❤❤

  83. Ida Dudenmanner

    "Bowl of oatmeal tried to stare me down... And won." Always love this man!

  84. David Victor

    Julia Hamilton
    He is right up there with Bob Dylan in my Mind

  85. Michael Herman

    Profound.

    Bob Bob

    Or profane that's JP!

  86. Hank Hill

    But fortunately... I have the key... to e-scape.... reality

  87. jean vaillancourt

    a good friend who past on intro me to it and i remember doc from port each time my sister a nun lol

  88. LOLBram71

    Been a JP fan since I was 3 years old... my daddy played everything he ever put out every single night. He literally had all his albums and cassettes growing up. I have yet to see him live but even if I don't i am thankful this man has always touched my heart and made so many memories with my family through the years.... Every song is special.

  89. Ramona Middleton

    JOHN PRINE #1 love your music!!!!!!

  90. Johnny Fuller

    my brother played his album prime prine & I've listened to him ever since and that was over 30 yrs ago

  91. John Cole

    awesome song and performer

  92. MrFartboy79

    When I woke up this morning, things were lookin' bad
    Seem like total silence was the only friend I had
    Bowl of oatmeal tried to stare me down and won
    And it was twelve o'clock before I realized
    That I was havin', no fun

    Ah, but fortunately I have the key to escape reality
    And you may see me tonight with an illegal smile
    It don't cost very much, but it lasts a long while
    Won't you please tell the man I didn't kill anyone
    No I'm just tryin' to have me some fun
    Last time I checked my bankroll, it was gettin' thin
    Sometimes it seems like the bottom
    Is the only place I've been
    Chased a rainbow down a one-way street, dead end
    And all my friends turned out to be insurance salesmen
    Ah, but fortunately I have the key to escape reality
    And you may see me tonight with an illegal smile
    It don't cost very much, but it lasts a long while
    Won't you please tell the man I didn't kill anyone
    No I'm just tryin' to have me some fun
    Well, I sat down in my closet with all my overalls
    Tryin' to get away from all the ears inside my walls
    I dreamed the police heard
    Everything I thought, what then?
    Well I went to court and the judge's name was Hoffman
    Ah, but fortunately I have the key to escape reality
    And you may see me tonight with an illegal smile
    It don't cost very much, but it lasts a long while
    Won't you please tell the man I didn't kill anyone
    No I'm just tryin' to have me some fun
    Well done, hot dog bun, my sister's a nun.

  93. Jennifer C

    Damn this is such a great song. Love you John.

  94. jack shepard

    lol I want to put a bumper sticker on my car. "Smile illegally" 🍄👌😂

  95. Kurt Cole

    saw him a few years back, he's awesome, he communicates with the audience and his music is right up there with the best, he 2hr.and 45 minutes, played everything I wanted to hear except souveniors

  96. Moon Dancer

    Good song. They do know what you are thinking now and Facebook is a PsyOp.