Legendary John Prine succumbed to complications related to the coronavirus Tuesday night, 04-07-20. He was 73. Prine, without dispute, was one of the most admired American country folk singer-songwriters of the last half-century. He was a beloved figure within the music world. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential songwriters of his generation, the Mark Twain of modern songwriting. He was cherished for his often-humorous style of country music that incorporated witty or poignant protest and social commentary.

Prine grew up in a country music-loving family. He learned guitar as a teenager from his grandfather and brother. He was a Chicago mailman who started writing folk songs in the late 1960s.

He was relatively unknown in 1970 when, with reluctance, he took the stage for the first time at an open-mic showcase at a small Chicago club called the Fifth Peg. He later shared that his performance was met with profound silence from the audience. "They just sat there," he said. "They didn't even applaud, they just looked at me. Then the clapping began. It was like I found out all of a sudden that I could communicate deep feelings and emotions, and to find that out all at once was amazing."

After that open mic showcase Prine gave singer/songwriter Kris Kristofferson an after-hours performance of material that, Kristofferson later said, "was unlike anything I'd heard before."

The world was then enriched beyond measure; Kristofferson talked Prine into recording his first album, self-titled, in 1971. The album earned Prine a Grammy nomination for best new artist. Over the next five decades, Prine recorded 21 more albums and several collaboration albums. He has influenced countless musicians, including Johnny Cash, Roger Waters, and Bob Dylan.

From John Pine's First Album Cover
"John Prine" 1971

From John Pine's First Album Back Cover
"John Prine" 1971

Prine received six awards from the Americana Music Honors & Awards: the Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting (2003), Artist of the Year (2005, 2017, 2018), Song of the Year for "Summer's End" (2019) and Album of the Year for The Tree of Forgiveness (2019).

He was a two-time Grammy winner who had been given the Recording Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award at the 62nd Grammy Awards. The Grammy Awards are annually presented by The Recording Academy for outstanding achievements and artistic excellence in the recording arts.

Prine has said in several interviews that "Far From Me" is his favorite song that he has written. He explained that the line, "a broken bottle looks just like a diamond ring" is in reference to his childhood.

He said, "We were raised close to a junkyard and one of my favorite pastimes was playing in the junkyard breaking bottles. The kids always commented that the fragments of glass looked just like a field of diamonds. The majority of my songs are written from life experiences and a lot of times there is not any symbolism but just words that take me to another place and time."

During 2005, at the request of U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser, John Prine became the first singer/songwriter to read and perform at the Library of Congress.

A Literary Evening
With John Prine and Ted Kooser

In his 1997 autobiography Cash, Johnny Cash said: "I don't listen to music much at the farm, unless I'm going into songwriting mode and looking for inspiration. Then I'll put on something by the writers I've admired and used for years, Rodney Crowell, John Prine, Guy Clark, and the late Steve Goodman are my Big Four, or any music in any field that has real artistry, or something that promises a connection to what's essential in my own music: Old blues, old country, old gospel."

In 2009, Bob Dylan told The Huffington Post that Prine was one of his favorite writers, stating, "Prine's stuff is pure Proustian existentialism. Midwestern mind trips to the nth degree, and he writes beautiful songs."

From Fiona Whelan Prine
(John Prine's Wife)

Our beloved John died yesterday evening (04-07-20) at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, TN. We have no words to describe the grief our family is experiencing at this time. John was the love of my life and adored by our sons Jody, Jack and Tommy, daughter in law Fanny, and by our grandchildren. John contracted Covid-19, and in spite of the incredible skill and care of his medical team at Vanderbilt, he could not overcome the damage this virus inflicted on his body.

I sat with John - who was deeply sedated- in the hours before he passed and will be forever grateful for that opportunity. My dearest wish is that people of all ages take this virus seriously and follow guidelines set by the CDC. We send our condolences and love to the thousands of other American families who are grieving the loss of loved ones at this time - and to so many other families across the world.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the outpouring of love we have received from family, friends, and fans all over the world. John will be so missed, but he will continue to comfort us with his words and music and the gifts of kindness, humor and love he left for all of us to share. In lieu of flowers or gifts at this time, we would ask that a donation be made to one of the following non profits:

Thistle Farms Organization

Room In The Inn Organization

Nashville Rescue Mission Organization

Today (04-08-20), our coffee table
was covered with the finest music anywhere:
John Prine's CD's

One of our favorite CD's at Christmas Time

My son Joey let me know this morning that John had passed. My wife Donna and I have been grieving all day, listening to his music, crying, and trying to honor him as best we can. We will miss his presence on this "F'd Up" planet. He is one voice that helps make sense of it all.

Tim Christensen
(04-08-20 - astarrynightproductions.com)

We join the world in mourning the passing of revered country and folk singer/songwriter John Prine. Widely lauded as one of the most influential songwriters of his generation, John's impact will continue to inspire musicians for years to come. We send our deepest condolences to his loved ones.

Ben Beaumont-Thomas
(04-07-20 - The Recording Academy - The Guardian)

Over here on E Street, we are crushed by the loss of John Prine. John and I were "New Dylans" together in the early 70s and he was never anything but the loveliest guy in the world. He was a true national treasure and a songwriter for the ages. We send our love and prayers to his family.

Bruce Springsteen

Words can't even come close. I'm crushed by the loss of my dear friend, John. My heart and love go out to Fiona and all the family. For all of us whose hearts are breaking, we will keep singing his songs and holding him near.

Bonnie Raitt

Nobody's ever deserved there to be a heaven more than John Prine. If there's not a heaven, they ough'ta get one together pretty quick, because John's coming.

Todd Snider

With a heavy heart, but deep love and gratitude for his gift he gave us all - Goodbye, John Prine.

Stephen Colbert

John Prine & Stephen Colbert
"That's the Way the World Goes Round"

John Prine
"Please Don't Bury Me"

John Prine
"When I Get To Heaven"

John Prine
More Songs on YouTube

John Prine's Official Website

John Prine Quotes

Bowl of oatmeal tried to stare me down ... and won. John Prine

Blow up your TV ... throw away your paper ... move to the country and build you a home. Plant a little garden ... eat a lot of peaches ... try and find Jesus on your own. John Prine

I'm fascinated by America ... it's so odd. John Prine

The scientific nature of the ordinary man is to go out and do the best you can. John Prine

You're up one day and the next you're down, it's a half an inch of water and you think you're gonna drown, that's the way that the world goes round. John Prine

I guess what I always found funny was the human condition. There is a certain comedy and pathos to trouble and accidents. Like, when a driver has parked his car crookedly and then wonders why he has the bad luck of being hit. John Prine

Now Jesus, he don't like killing, no matter what the reason is for, and your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore. John Prine

Jesus was a good guy, he didn't need this shit. John Prine

As far as guitar picking, if I make the same mistakes at the same time every day, people will start calling it a style. John Prine

I don't concern myself with where I fit in. I just keep my head down and keep doing whatever it is I'm going. John Prine

The best way to write a song is to think of something else and then the song kind of creeps in. The beginning makes no sense whatsoever. It just, like, rhymes. And then all of a sudden I'll go into, I am an old woman named after my mother. John Prine

Make me an angel that flies from Montgomery, make me a poster of an old rodeo, just give me something that I can hold on to – to believe in this livin' is just a hard way to go. John Prine

If dreams were thunder and lightning was desire this old house would have burned down a long time ago. John Prine

How the hell can a person go to work in the morning and come home in the evening and have nothing to say? John Prine

In my songs, I try to look through someone else's eyes, and I want to give the audience a feeling more than a message.
John Prine

I was a mailman walking in the snow six days a week, 12-hour days. Every two weeks, I'd get a check for $228. John Prine

I wrote most of 'Hello in There' in a relay box, which looks like a mailbox, only bigger. Sometimes, it was so cold and windy on my mail route that I'd go inside the relay box and eat a sandwich, just to get away from the wind. I remember working on 'Hello in There' inside the relay box. John Prine

Because of my song 'Sam Stone,' a lot of people thought I was interested in writing protest songs. Writing protest songs always struck me as patting yourself on the back. John Prine

Oodles of light what a beautiful sight, both of God's eyes are shining tonight. John Prine

And you may see me tonight with an illegal smile, it don't cost very much, but it lasts a long while. Won't you please tell the man I didn't kill anyone, no; I'm just tryin' to have me some fun. John Prine

I used to read a lot of Steinbeck, and I admired Roger Miller and Bob Dylan. John Prine

Johnny Cash was like Abraham Lincoln to me. John Prine

You can fool some of the people part of the time in a rock and roll song, fifty million Elvis Presley fans can't be all wrong.
John Prine

When you're singing somebody else's songs, it's just pure joy to me. John Prine

I like doing chores. John Prine

I embraced loneliness as a kid. I know what loneliness is. When you're at the end of your rope. I never forget those feelings. John Prine

I don't like to be caught without a pick. John Prine

If I can make myself laugh about something that I should be crying about, that's pretty good. John Prine

I think if you write from your own gut, you'll come up with something interesting, whereas if you sit around guessing what people want, you end up with the kind of same schlock that everybody else has got. John Prine

If heartaches was commercials, we'd all be on TV. John Prine

I just tried to come up with some honest songs. What I was writing about was real plain stuff that I wasn't sure was going to be interesting to other people. But I guess it was ... I've never had any discipline whatsoever. I just wait on a song like I was waiting for lightning to strike. And eventually-usually sometime around 3 in the morning-I'll have a good idea. By the time the sun comes up, hopefully, I'll have a decent song. John Prine

Some of the songs come so fully, it's like they are pre-packaged. There has been a couple that came in the middle of the night. And I thought, jeez, I'll never forget that, went back to sleep, and it was gone. You'll hear something years later another songwriter that you respect writes, and you go, jeez, I think that was the remnants of the song that got sent to me. John Prine

I edit as I go. Especially when I go to commit it to paper. I prefer a typewriter even to a computer. I don't like it. There's no noise on the computer. I like a typewriter because I am such a slow typist. I edit as I am committing it to paper. I like to see the words before me and I go, "Yeah, that's it." They appear before me and they fit. I don't usually take large parts out. If I get stuck early in a song, I take it as a sign that I might be writing the chorus and don't know it. Sometimes, you gotta step back a little bit and take a look at what you're doing. John Prine

My music has been called so many different things over the years. I figure as long as it's selling, call it what you want.
John Prine

After cancer, I ain't scared of nothing. John Prine

I can blame a lot of things for not writing songs, but cancer isn't one of them. John Prine

My sense of humor has saved me more than a couple of times in my life. John Prine

Writing is about a blank piece of paper and leaving out what’s not supposed to be there. John Prine

I think the more the listener can contribute to the song, the better; the more they become part of the song, and they fill in the blanks. Rather than tell them everything, you save your details for things that exist. Like what color the ashtray is. How far away the doorway was. So when you're talking about intangible things like emotions, the listener can fill in the blanks and you just draw the foundation. John Prine

I guess I just process death differently than some folks. Realizing you're not going to see that person again is always the most difficult part about it. But that feeling settles, and then you are glad you had that person in your life, and then the happiness and the sadness get all swirled up inside you. John Prine

God Bless John Prine