This morning, I cried so hard, listening to the new John Prine album, the Tree of Forgiveness, I ran a red light and had to pull over. Mascara rolled down my face. It’s his first new album in 13 years and it’s a dandy. His songs are still beautiful, silly and heartbreaking, John Prine is the cheerful and melancholy Dr. Seuss of the music world.
I started listening to John Prine when his first album came out in the 70’s. I was thirteen. My big brother Jack who was a freshman in college was a huge fan. He had a beat up pick-up and we’d roll down the windows and howl along to every song. Two years latter both my dad and Jack died suddenly, two weeks apart and for several years John Prine’s voice, his messages and emotions,were just about the only music I could tolerate. His broken voice and sad, goofy songs some how duct taped my heart for a little bit, until it began to heal on it’s own.
In the beginning most of John Prine’s songs were really sad. But every album he has grown more hopeful, his view of life has evolved. The world, I think, used to hurt his soul, now he seems amused and charmed by this planet and her inhabitants.
Over the years I’ve tried to meet John Prine, but it’s never meant to be and that’s ok. I talk to him in my head sometimes. Today, I imagined telling him about the two Mennonite men I saw this morning with long beards, big hats and antique hats and they were vaping.
My son Jack is a songwriter in Nashville, he grew up listening to John Prine and the influence is obvious. Jack is taking me to see Mr. Prine live next weekend in a little venue in Nashville. I don’t need to meet him anymore, but if I did I’d tell him I’m happy he’s happy. He wasn’t always. And I’m so glad we’re both still alive. That’s takes a lot of work sometimes. I’d thank him for Jack’s songs because they bring me joy and make me proud. I’d thank him so staying with me all these years.
I was still listening to Tree of Forgiveness when I got to work. I parked, turned off the car and the music stopped suddenly. And that med me cry all over again.
Jack and Eddie too me to see John Prine ten years ago.