John Prine, who for five decades wrote rich, plain-spoken songs that chronicled the struggles and stories of everyday working people and changed the face of modern American roots music, died Tuesday April 7 at Nashville’s Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He was 73. The cause was complications related to COVID-19, his family confirmed to Rolling Stone.
Prine, who left behind an extraordinary body of folk-country classics, was hospitalized last month after the sudden onset of COVID-19 symptoms, and was placed in intensive care for 13 days. Prine’s wife and manager, Fiona, announced on March 17th that she had tested positive for the virus after they had returned from a European tour.
As a songwriter, Prine was admired by Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson, and others, known for his ability to mine seemingly ordinary experiences – he wrote many of his classics as a mailman in Maywood, Illinois – for revelatory songs that covered the full spectrum of the human experience. There’s “Hello in There,” about the devastating loneliness of an elderly couple; “Sam Stone,” a portrait of a drug-addicted Vietnam soldier suffering from PTSD; and “Paradise,” an ode to his parents’ strip-mined hometown of Paradise, Kentucky, which became an environmental anthem. Prine tackled these subjects with empathy and humor, with an eye for “the in-between spaces,” the moments people don’t talk about, he told Rolling Stone in 2017. “Prine’s stuff is pure Proustian existentialism,” Dylan said in 2009. “Midwestern mind-trips to the nth degree.” (Rolling Stone)
Forty years ago, John Prine made his Austin City Limits debut in the venerable music series’ third season. Prine has since returned to the ACL stage several times and will do so again this weekend, performing a mix of classic material and new songs from his most recent (and last) album, The Tree of Forgiveness.
An emotional highlight of the singer-songwriter’s 2018 LP is “Summer’s End,” a bittersweet tune that comes to terms not with the change of seasons, but with grief, loss and alienation. Those themes are beautifully brought to life… need only Prine’s sage vocal delivery to convey their gravitas with compassion and warmth. (Stephen L Betts, rollingstone.com)
Thanks to indykid for sharing the HDTV webcast at Dime.
Recorded live at The Moody Theater, Austin, Texas; June 5, 2018
Very good audio (ripped from HDTV webcast)
Kenneth Blevins (drums)
David Jacques (bass, vocals)
Fats Kaplin (fiddle, pedal steel-guitar, mandolin, guitar, vocals)
John Prine (vocals, guitar)
Jason Wilber (guitar, vocals)
Tyler Childers (vocals, guitar on 08., 09. + 12.)
01. Intro/Knockin’ On Your Screen Door (Prine/McLaughlin) 4.49
02. Egg & Daughter Nite, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1967 (Crazy Bone) (Prine) 3.53
03. Summer’s End (Prine/McLaughlin) 4.06
04. Caravan Of Fools (Prine/McLaughlin/Auerbach) 4.06
05. Lonesome Friends Of Science (Prine) 4.51
06. Boundless Love (Prine/McLaughlin/Auerbach) 3.51
07. Illegal Smile (Prine) 4.19
08. Please Don’t Bury Me (Prine) 4.00
09. Lady May (Prine) 3:07
10. Lake Marie (Prine) 7.27
11. When I Get To Heaven (Prine) 4.02
12. Paradise (Prine) 5.36
John Prine (October 10, 1946 – April 7, 2020)