First Installment of “Big Old Goofy World: The Story of Oh Boy Records” Traces Early Years of “the Little Label that Could”
John Prine liked to point out he was president - but not of a nation. He was the president of Oh Boy Records.
“And also the only artist on the label,” he said during a mid-concert exchange with a fan in footage from part one of “Big Old Goofy World: The Story of Oh Boy Records.”
The serial documentary celebrates 40 years of Prine’s label - “the little label that could,” Billy Prine calls it - which launched in 1981 with a red-vinyl single of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” b/w “Silver Bells.”
Prine had good cause for naming Oh Boy as he did.
“When things are going real good, I can just go, ‘Oh, boy! oh, boy! oh, boy!, what a year we’ve had,’” a young Prine tells an interviewer. “And when things ain’t so good, you could go, ‘Oh, boy.’”
“We weren’t working for a cause,” label co-founder Dan Epstein says, “we were trying to survive.”
Directed by Joshua Britt and Neilson Hubbard, the first installment features still images and video footage of Prine between 1981 and 1993, when Oh Boy expanded its roster to include the Bis-Quits and Donnie Fritts, who are seen recording their label debuts, the latter laying down “A Damn Good Country Song” with Waylon Jennings. Label co-founder Al Bunetta and former label artist and longtime Prine friend Todd Snider also appear.
“It was always about the song,” Peter Bunetta says in the 18-minute episode. “It was always about the singer. It was always about the people who told the other people about that singer and that song.
“And those guys did it better than anybody.”