My stepdaughter sent me a text yesterday to let me know that 73-year old singer-songwriter John Prine, a favorite of ours for decades, has been hospitalized in critical condition with coronavirus symptoms. He’s been in poor health for some time, surviving a bout with cancer in the late 1990s, and has had several subsequent surgeries, so he is in more than one high-risk group for Covid-19.
He’s one of the very few contemporary entertainers I’ve admired enough that I actually roused myself to see him in a live performance, catching him at an outdoor concert at Pittsburgh’s Hartwood Acres several years ago. It was sweet. As are so many of his songs. Although he never really hit “big time” commercial success, Prine’s fans are loyal and legion, and those who cite him as an influencer for, and inspiration to, their own music include such luminaries as Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello, and Kris Kristofferson (who “discovered” Prine in the early 70s when Prine was working during the day as a mailman, and singing his songs in nightclubs at night).
But for me, when I hear the name, “John Prine,” there’s just one indelible memory and a heart-stopping flashback across twenty years.
October 1999. Jenny’s wedding. The Father/Daughter dance. What was the song? Some sappy old chestnut: Sinatra? Armstrong? Crosby? Cole? Something a bit more contemporary: Stevie Wonder? The Beatles? Barry White (perish the thought)? Billy Joel?
None of those. No contest. Not even close.
For four minutes, it was just the three of them: Frank. Jenny. And John Prine.
There’s a big old goofy man
Dancing with a big old goofy girl
It’s a big old goofy world
Thank you, John Prine. We’ll never forget. God Bless and Godspeed on the next stage of your journey, wherever it takes you.
Full lyrics here. I just love this song. What about you? Is there a song in your life that evokes just One Moment in Time? I hope so.
Update: John Prine passed away on April 7, 2020. Rest in Peace. And have fun in Heaven!