It’s John’s birthday today! (He’s 72) John Prine is having a heck of a summer. He released this video at the bottom of this post about opiate addition to rave reviews. He received the Artist of the Year (mentioned below), and yesterday he was also nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!
John Prine’s new video for “Summer’s End” packs an emotional wallop, carefully and beautifully rendering a story about a family grappling with loss.
“Summer’s end’s around the bend, just flying,” sings Prine in the opening line, summoning that bittersweet feeling of change in the song from his 2018 album The Tree of Forgiveness. Prine appears strumming his guitar in several scenes, but the narrative in the clip, directed by Kerrin Sheldon and Elaine McMillion Sheldon, centers on an older man and his young granddaughter, both trying to cope with the death of her mother (and his daughter). The details come out in brief flashes – long summer days, visiting her gravesite, the comfort of friends on the playground, and a TV news story about opioid overdoses.
At the conclusion of the clip, a note says “Dedicated to Max,” in honor of former Nashville mayor Megan Barry’s son Max, who died in 2017 from a combination of opioids and other drugs. Prine and Barry’s families are close and he performed at Max’s memorial service.
Prine recently clenched the Artist of the Year award at the 2018 Americana Honors & Awards, his third overall win in the category. It’s a continuation of his victory lap in 2018, having released The Tree of Forgiveness in March to his best-ever first-week sales, notching more than 50,000 equivalent albums. On Tuesday, he surprised a Grand Ole Opry crowd by performing his song “Paradise” with the Steeldrivers and other special guest Bill Murray.
Like other Chicagoans who left their hometown to become world-famous, both John Prine and Bill Murray remain Chicagoans at heart forever, forever imprinted by the big city where they started their careers in close-proximity to each other. So it made sense to bring these two old friends together to discuss how they went from Chicago boys to legends.
I first heard John Prine in the 90’s on that local North County indie rock station (95.9?). I was in the parking lot of the Del Mar Heights Ralph’s and I couldn’t stop listening. It was Ain’t Hurtin’ Nobody and it’s still one of my favorite songs.
I saw him play at the original Golden Bear in HB back in the early 1980s and became a fan instantly.
Roger Waters, when asked by Word Magazine in 2008 if he heard Pink Floyd’s influence in newer British bands like Radiohead, replied, “I don’t really listen to Radiohead. I listened to the albums and they just didn’t move me in the way, say, John Prine does. His is just extraordinarily eloquent music—and he lives on that plane with Neil Young and Lennon.”