Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Paradise Lost

Obviously this is not a good day, the pandemic having taken its most visible victim thusfar and leaving us all in a state of near-catatonic sadness.
Someone sang about not knowing what you've got until it's gone. Today we wake up without a guy who some feel was the finest living songwriter on Earth.
His songs, and the characters that populate them, will never die... so there is that. But losing him like this, in the initial phase of grief, does little to comfort us even though we sense the Long Game of things.
I regret that he suffered terribly these last few weeks, and the sorrow this is putting his loved ones through most of all.
I came to his party later, having only first heard him on that Sessions At West 54th television program he did with country queen Iris DeMent at the end of the last century.
Before that, I had heard his name but never his music. That changed instantly, as I immediately ran out the next day to purchase everything I could lay hands upon.
Surely one of the formative voices of the ubiquitous, multi-trillion dollar genre we have come to call Americana, it almost feels like America itself died yesterday after a long de$cent into illne$$.
He was a fighter too, this man. Beat Stage 4 cancer not once but twice, only to be felled by the virus that this pathetic administration has let spiral out of control. 
May they all hang like the dogs they are in The Hague for the manifest Crimes Against Humanity they have perpetrated against the world.
Our hero would never agree to that, but he was a gentler soul than I and spent a lifetime chronicling the human condition, in all its flawed and fantastic finery, in tunes that may all be based on the same three simple chords, but which will outlive us all by centuries.
I say it every day, but we need to acknowledge, always, that as bad as things are these days, we've still had the honor and the privilege of living lifetimes that overlap with someone like John Prine, who passed away yesterday from the dreadful COVID-19 at age 73 after a two-week battle.
In the days ahead, you'll read myriad tributes and gushing testimonials about how the music of John Prine helped someone through the pain of loss, or the breakup of a relationship, or any of life's other travails.
As it was with his songs, be assured that every single word will be true. Even -- no, especially -- the lies.
John Prine
Houston, Texas USA

early set:
01 Please Don't Bury Me
02 Bruised Orange (Chain of Sorrow)
03 Come Back to Us Barbara Lewis Hare Krishna Beauregard
04 The Oldest Baby In the World
05 Fish and Whistle
06 Speed of the Sound of Loneliness
07 Billy the Bum
08 Illegal Smile
09 How Lucky
10 Iron Ore Betty
11 Aimless Love
12 Sam Stone
13 I Had a Dream
14 There She Goes
15 Hello In There
16 Paradise

late set:
17 Just Wanna Be with You
18 Common Sense 
19 Spanish Pipedream
20 Far from Me 
21 Speed of the Sound of Loneliness
22 Fish and Whistle
23 Come Back to Us Barbara Lewis Hare Krishna Beauregard
24 Unwed Fathers
25 Illegal Smile
26 Dear Abby
27 Souvenirs
28 That's the Way the World Goes 'Round
29 Iron Ore Betty
30 People Puttin' People Down
31 Aw Heck
32 The Bottomless Lake
33 JP talk
34 Sam Stone
35 One Red Rose
36 Please Don't Bury Me
37 Sailin' Around
38 Hello In There
39 A Boy Like Me

Total time: 2:35:35
disc break goes after Track 19

John Prine - vocals & guitar

probably sourced from master soundboard cassettes of both, complete sets
So this is it, I guess. Farewell JP, and thank you for staying you for five decades of some of the most heartfelt stories and melodies and morals to those stories.
You've broken the speed of the sound of loneliness once and for all, and can go to your rest knowing that you absolutely changed this world for the better, in a pure and lasting fashion that will survive as long as there's Donalds and Lydias and Sam Stones and Barbara Lewis Hare Krishna Beauregards among and around us, living their inevitable triumphs and tragedies.
I guess it's true what you said. About how sweet songs never last too long on broken radios. Travel safe, John Prine. I'm gonna go sob into my pillow now.--J.
10.10.1946 - 4.7.2020
please don't bury me
down in the cold, cold ground
I'd rather have 'em cut me up
and pass me all around

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