Sturgill Simpson talks John Prine & COVID, performs “Breakers Roar” on Colbert (watch)
Sturgill Simpson released a surprise double LP, Cuttin’ Grass Vol 1 – The Butcher Shoppe Sessions, featuring bluegrass versions of his songs, last month, and on Tuesday night (11/10) he went on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to promote the album, and to talk to about his bout with COVID-19, his relationship with the late John Prine, and more.
About coronavirus, Sturgill said, "I got that 'rona," continuing, "We were on the road in Europe in late February, and then came back and jumped right into a US arena tour in March. Played the last show in Charleston on the 10th of March, and the next day I woke up feeling like a bucketful of buttholes. We cancelled about three shows that weekend, I went home, and the next morning I was in the ER."
Sturgill didn't get the common symptom of losing his senses of smell and taste, but says, "I just had this intense frontal lobe headache for about three days, extreme fatigue, which I thought was exhaustion for about a week before I got real heavy. We were playing shows and like, certain notes just weren't coming that easy, I just thought maybe I was old and out of shape. About the time we got home when it really hit I guess I would describe it as it felt like somebody had a ratchet strapped around my chest, along with about a 187 over low mid 160s blood pressure." That, he said, was followed by "three weeks of extremely intense fatigue."
Later, Sturgill recounted meeting John Prine while at The Butcher Shoppe working on his 2016 album A Sailor’s Guide to Earth. He'd been mixing the album when he looked up and saw Prine sitting behind him in a chair. "I had no idea how long he’d been sitting there," Sturgill said, "and I had vapor lock, I kinda freaked out, coming face to face with your hero. And he was just like, ‘That’s pretty good!’ He said, ‘You wanna go get some meatloaf?’ And we went and had lunch, and any time I’d come up to town, we’d go grab lunch."
"Along with myself and many others," Sturgill continued, "he was a mentor and very giving with his time and wisdom, and we’re all grateful to get to know him."
Prine also left Sturgill something in his will: a 2008 Porsche 911 Turbo. After Colbert expressed surprised that Prine was into cars, Sturgill said, "he's a total car guy, he has a bunch of old Cadillacs."
"It will be something I treasure the rest of my life," he said of the gift.
Sturgill, joined by the band he put together for Cuttin’ Grass, also performed the bluegrass version of "Breakers Roar" on the episode. Watch that performance, and his full conversation with Colbert, below.