read tributes to John Prine from Bruce Springsteen, Margo Price, Stephen Colbert, Bette Midler, and more
One of our most gifted songwriters, John Prine touched all parts of the music world and beyond. Read tributes to John -- who died earlier today from coronavirus complications -- from Margo Price, Jason Isbell, Taika Waititi, Bette Midler, Bon Iver, Stephen Colbert, k.d. lang, Michael Moore, Rosanne Cash, Bonnie Rait, Stephen King, Marc Maron, Hiss Golden Messenger, Kevin Morby, Ron Sexsmith, Lukas Nelson, The Grand Ole Opry, John Darnielle, Bruce Springsteen , and more.
The dB's Peter Holsapple:
My world, the world of songwriters and guitar pickers, is reeling from the death of John Prine yesterday. We labor at our craft in hopes we can attain some vague approximation of the easy genius of his songs.
John Lennon said the artist’s role is as “a reflection of us all,” and no one did that with as much facility as Prine, in my opinion. From Mr. Peabody’s coal train to a poster of an old rodeo to hammering nails in planks to hair so unnaturally curled, any listener could relate to his characters and his takes on love and life. There was a plain generality to it, but it was filled with so many tiny bejeweled details that addressed the specific as well. And oh, the emotion from that road-worn beat-up voice. The real thing in every respect.
We are left with a catalog of his songs, a phalanx of his albums and minds full of memories to assuage this loss as best we can. It’s so vast, yet I think we all hoped for even more from John, had his life not been cut short.
We will have to learn to be satisfied with what we have and to revel in all of it.
We hoped for a miracle that did not come for John; and when it didn’t happen, he accidentally became someone in one of his own songs.
“In the summer of 1973, days after I’d seen my first rock concert (Grand Funk Railroad), Steve Leder, my friend and band mate, took me downstairs to his teen lair and played me John Prine’s “Dear Abby.” “Whaddya think,” he asked. ‘Country’ I thought. ‘I hate country.’ Steve picked up the needle and played the song again. And once more after that. I started to hear something in those lyrics; John Prine was speaking to me. He was wry, he made me smile, he was doing something different. It wasn’t Grand Funk. It wasn’t Alice Cooper or The Rolling Stones either. With just his acoustic guitar and a ragged voice it became clear that you didn’t need stacks of Marshall amps to blow people away. You needed only to mine the minutiae of living and take careful notes to make people feel the weight of their humanity.”