RIP John Prine

RIP John Prine

rip john prine
John Prine, 1985 (Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

"If God's got a favourite songwriter, I think it's John Prine" – Kris Kristofferson (November 4, 2003, at John Prine's induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall Of Fame)

Sad but not unexpected news – legendary and Grammy Award-winning American singer-songwriter John Prine has passed away at the age of 73 due to complications with COVID-19. He was hospitalised last month. Prine, who toured Australia for just the second time ever in March 2019, had been due to return this month but cancelled some months ago due to underlying health issues. ILYOS celebrates the life and music of John Prine with some classic footage and some of his great songs.

John Prine was still a postman in Chicago when he was discovered by Kris Kristofferson and signed by Atlantic Records. That was in 1971, and he was 24 years old. He went onto become a two-time Grammy winner, and the owner of his own record label Oh Boy Records for nearly 40 years. He was a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2016, in recognition of his lyrical genius, he was awarded the PEN New England Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award, an honour previously given to his old friend Kris, as well as Leonard Cohen, Randy Newman, and Chuck Berry. (Bob Dylan has said that "Prine's stuff is pure Proustian existentialism.") He was named the Americana Music Association's Artist of the Year in 2018, on the back of his final album The Tree of Forgiveness. In January of this year he attended the Grammys to accept a Life Time Achievement Award, for which Bonnie Raitt performed her signature version of Prine's early classic "Angel From Montgomery".

Prine's early albums for Atlantic were full of classic tunes; songs that were soon covered by not only Bonnie Raitt, but Johnny Cash, Joan Baez, the Everly Brothers, Bette Middler, even John Laws! In subsequent years his songs have been recorded by everyone from Kasey Chambers to Gene Clark to 10,000 Maniacs to REM to John Mellencamp to Paul Westerberg to John Fogerty to the Drive-by Truckers to My Morning Jacket to Jason Isbell to Kasey Musgrove. He is considered a spiritual godfather to generations of songwriters with a literary bent – perhaps the latest generation more than any other - especially in Nashville, where his passing will be deeply felt.    

Here are some out favourite John Prine songs, performances and covers.

Bonnie Raitt & John Prine – Angel From Montgomery 

Hello In There 

Illegal Smile 

Sam Stone 

Johnny Cash – Sam Stone 

Jesus The Missing Years 

John Prine & Nanci Griffith – The Speed of the Sound of Loneliness 

In Spite Of Our Selves (with Iris Dement) 

Some Humans Ain't Human 

When I Get To Heaven 


Related Posts