Yesterday, we learned the upsetting news that the great singer-songwriter John Prine was in critical condition, being treated for COVID-19. Today, Prine’s wife Fiona — who herself is recovering from coronavirus — tweeted that Prine is “stable.” She also thanked Prine’s fans and well-wishers for the public outpouring of love and wrote, “Sing his songs.” A whole lot of people are doing exactly that.
Earlier today, we posted a video of Joan Baez playing “Hello In There,” a John Prine song that she first covered in 1975. Now another admirer of Prine has shared video of herself singing one of Prine’s songs. Adrianne Lenker, leader of the great indie band Big Thief, has posted a home-recorded video of herself doing a solo-acoustic take on “Summer’s End,” a song from Prine’s most recent album The Tree Of Forgiveness. That LP, released in 2018, was Prine’s first in 13 years. “Summer’s End” is a bittersweet song about love, and Prine has said that it’s his response to the opioid crisis.
Lenker’s version of “Summer’s End” is soft and empathetic. There’s part near the end where she just stops and lets out a deep sigh, and it’s like: Yes. Exactly. (I don’t know if Lenker recorded it before learning that Prine was recovering, but judging by that sigh, I’m guessing no.) Along with the video, Lenker wrote, “I’m beyond grateful for the gift of his songs, sending love to his whole family.” Watch the video below.
UPDATE (4/8): And now, with the unfortunate news of John Prine’s passing, Adrianne Lenker has covered another song of his, “Far From Me,” and shared some words about the musician:
rest and fly peacefully, john prine. you will live on a long time and powerfully through your songs. you are one of my all time greatest musical heroes. I have always admired how your words can be all at once so melancholic and poignant and full of humor. sometimes you express the hardest most complicated feelings in the smallest amount of words, and both the literal and metaphorical meanings are so rich. I have learned so much through listening to you and I will continue to do so. Thank you for the gifts you have left here for us. “A question ain’t really a question, if you know the answer too.” now I guess you can know the answer to the biggest question of all.