The singer-songwriter legend has died at 73 from coronavirus complications.
My dad called me late last night to tell me John Prine was gone. He’d been monitoring Prine’s condition closely, as I had, since the legendary singer-songwriter was hospitalized many days ago with coronavirus complications.
Dad has followed the guy since the beginning of his career. I caught up as soon as I could, thanks to the family record collection.
So we chatted last night for a minute about our favorite Prine songs, about the ones the singer had played on stage in Dallas when we saw him a couple of years ago — the masterpiece ballad “Hello In There,” the comedically genius “In Spite of Ourselves,” the silver-lining mortality ode “When I Get to Heaven," and on and on.
We’d named off at least a dozen of ‘em when I suddenly caught a flash memory from that night at Dallas' Winspear Opera House.
I remember watching Prine end his career-spanning set by dancing, slowly and un-self-consciously, off the stage. The collective appreciation in the audience at that moment was at its peak.
All the raw emotions in the legendary storyteller’s songbook had been shared with us over the course of the show, with witty stories to boot. The man on stage had lived all of these hilarious, gut-wrenching, wise, tragic, beautiful, delicate songs, and still made it to the other side of them with plenty of joie de vivre in tact.
Mourn for John Prine, but don’t worry about him. After you’ve spent a while with some of our favorite tunes of his, and after you hear the lyrics to the last one in the playlist below, you’ll be reminded that it’s all of us who are feeling the pain today. Ol' John's dancin'.
- Grandpa Was a Carpenter
- Sam Stone
- Fish and Whistle
- Paradise (with Sturgill Simpson)
- Some Humans Ain't Human
- Speed at the Sound of Loneliness
- Hello in There
- In Spite of Ourselves (with Iris DeMent)
- Christmas in Prison
- Lake Marie
- Angel From Montgomery (with Bonnie Raitt)
- When I Get to Heaven