I’m not feeling very funny today with the passing of folk-country-rock legend (at least round these parts he is) John Prine due to the COVID-19 coronavirus. He was a mailman from the Chicago suburbs and may very well have delivered mail to my house when I was a kid. Let’s go with that story. He did. I feel better with that connection.
I only saw him in concert once. That was the first of many concerts my wife and I have seen together, but only once to see John Prine. That’s okay. It makes it very special. He was a cancer survivor – twice. His body and voice suffered a bit in recent years from the results of the cancer as well as the cure, but he continued to write good music. He was the best lyricist I have ever known. Bob Dylan wrote wonderful lyrics about sprawling stories like “Hurricane” and “Tangled up in Blue.” John Prine wrote personal, intimate lyrics about people that touch your heart and soul.
So, here comes my John Prine tribute post. Click to read more about this amazing musician.
His first album in 1971 was self-titled and a masterpiece. But the 3rd & 4th songs on Side 1 are simply extraordinary. “Hello in There” is a plea for mercy and compassion for the aged coming from a songwriter just 25 years young at the time. “Sam Stone” is a tragic tale of the discarded due to addiction. I cannot listen to either without a tear. His most famous song from that album was popularized by Bonnie Raitt. It’s called “Angel From Montgomery” and it’s a gem. Here’s Prine providing some insight into the song before performing it.
All his songs weren’t sad. He had a lot of humor in his music. Here’s a fun one with Tom Petty called “Picture Show.”
John Prine was a local Chicago boy, even after moving to Nashville. Coming to Chicago was always coming home for him. Local radio station WXRT provided this eulogy today for a Chicago favorite son.
And here’s that last song from his last album, aptly called “When I Get to Heaven.”
RIP John. I look forward to stopping by that nightclub of yours in heaven and listening to your band. I hope it won’t be for a while though.