Homage to John Prine

Last month we received news that the great John Prine has succumb to the insidious COVID-19 virus.  We who grew up in the early ‘70’s were introduced by John Prine to a newer, edgier type of folk music incorporating folk, country, bluegrass, and rock & roll along with lyrics that matter.  Along with Guy Clark, Steve Goodman, David Bromberg, Bonnie Raitt, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Townes Van Zant, John Prine set the groundwork for the genre we would later call Americana or Roots music. John was an American treasure that won’t be replaced.

This page is Rootboy’s homage to his passing. Please feel free to share your own memories of John Prine in the comments section below.

John Prine lyrics makes us better human beings.  We love you John!

The Roots music community has responded to Johns’s death with an outpouring of love and remembrance. Here are some of their many tributes:

“This song (Hello in There) refers to the people that we’re all staying home to protect. It reminds us that older people aren’t expendable. They made us who we are and they’ve given us every single thing that we have.” – Brandi Carlile

“My dearest wish is that people of all ages take this virus seriously and follow guidelines set by the CDC.” – Fiona Prine

“He wrote music of towering compassion with an almost unheard of precision and creativity when it came to observing the fine details of ordinary lives. He was a writer of great humor, funny, with wry sensitivity. It has marked him as a complete original.” – Bruce Springsteen

 “I remember when Kris Kristofferson first brought him on the scene. All that stuff about Sam Stone, the soldier junky daddy and Donald and Lydia, where people make love from ten miles away. Nobody but Prine could write like that.” – Bob Dylan

 “There is no doubt John is in a better place than we are, but this world needed him too. No other songwriter has had more of an impact on this current generation than him.  We all miss you already John Prine.” – Margo Price

“Songwriting allows you to be anybody you want to be, so long as you get the details right.  John always got the details right.” – Jason Isbell

“I’m crushed by the loss of my dear friend, John. My heart and love go out to Fiona and all the family. For all of us whose hearts are breaking, we will keep singing his songs and holding him near.“– Bonnie Raitt

“And then there were all the other shining gems that made us love him, the sideways, sometimes upside-down takes on life that had us smiling and singing along.  Ways of looking at things that were new to the world but were expressed so forcefully and engaging that you could not turn away – there was no choice in the matter, you had to love him.” – Tom Rush

“Via con Dios, my friend, the light you’ve shown will outlive us all…” – Bob Wier

 “I loved and revered him and today the world is emptier. Thank God for his songs to fill the space. This virus is cruel and indiscriminate,” – Roseanne Cash

“This week, John Prine danced off this stage and onto the next one, and I like to think he’s somewhere sharing a song and a cocktail with all the friends he outlived.” – Jason Isbell

 “John Prine was a true master of songcraft.  A gifted and evocative lyricist, he was the songwriter other songwriters looked to for inspiration. He was a voice of tolerance, inclusion, whimsy, and protest” – Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland

“I was like, “I’m going to be like John Prine.”  A few years later, I realized that’s like saying you’re going to be like the guy in your neighborhood that got hit by lightning” – Todd Snider

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of John Prine.  It is my prayer that all the love he gave to this world will be returned ten-fold to his family — the ones he cherished the most — and that that love will help sustain them through their grief” – Iris Dement

“Thank you for all the love, joy and music, John Prine.  John made his mark on the world through his words, kindness, and songs. His story and legacy will live on forever” – Lukas Nelson

“Just give me one thing I can hold on to. I’m just heartbroken” – Roseanne Cash

 “You can never give up on a world that created John Prine” – John Cusack

“If you don’t like John Prine, kiss my ass. If you won’t stay home so we don’t lose any more legends, kiss it infinitely” – Reginald Spears

“Goodbye, John Prine. I am sadder than I have been in a long, long time.” – Tom Rush

Here are several tributes and articles from some of the many online blogs and periodicals:

Finally, here are some excellent YouTube content highlighting the genius of John Prine. Enjoy!

1 thought on “Homage to John Prine”

  1. The first time I saw John Prine was in 1980 at an outdoor show at the old Park West ski resort in Utah. John and his band warmed up for Jerry Jeff Walker. Our group had made a cooler full of “Jerry Jeff Punch” (Sangria wine) that we brought into the show, so of course, John’s set is the most memorable of the show. I remember that he and his band tore it up and had the crowd on its feet the entire show.

    I must have seen John Prine four or five times over the years. Easily the best show was in the early 2000’s at the Emerson Center in Bozeman. I was working in Bozeman and went alone. John had recently started touring again after recovering from neck cancer. I had heard that it had affected his voice so I wasn’t sure what to expect. He came with an excellent band and played for over two hours, covering most of his most popular songs (hesitate to call them “hits” :}). Needless to say, I thought his voice was better than ever!

    Steve Earle has declared, “Townes Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the whole world, and I’ll stand on Bob Dylan’s coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that.” Except he was wrong. He forgot about John Prine. God I’m going to miss that man!

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