Wednesday, April 08, 2020

John Prine (1946-2020)

Wow.  John Prine is dead from Corvid19.  That's the closest the pandemic has come--so far--to taking a close friend.  Not that he and I were close friends but as anyone who appreciates John Prine's music understands, his songs make a deeply personal connection.  For me, that connection began in the spring of 1972 when I heard "Your Flag Decal Won't Get you Into Heaven Any More".  I was just back from a year in Vietnam  and the song certainly captured my thoughts and feelings.   Even so it was a funny song, especially in the way he performed it.  I had just spent a year using black humor to mask the reality of my war and here was a singer-songwriter who was doing much the same.  I could easily relate to that.

Needless to say, I got a copy of Prine's debut album and was further struck by his talent.  With so many of Prine's (now) classic songs, that album has to be one of the greatest debuts ever.  I was hooked from then on.  I had a chance to see him in concert a few times--at The Mosque in 1975 when I lived in Richmond and at the Celebrity Theater (with its revolving stage) in Phoenix in the mid-1980s--and follow the ups and downs of his career as he figured out how to navigate the music industry without losing the integrity of his music.  He never attained widespread popularity but the quality and honesty of his work certainly ranks him as one of the great talents of his time.

Godspeed, John.  You've been welcome company for many years.