Below are the 10 best Prine cover songs (in alphabetical order by artist).
Amos Lee, “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness”
Amos Lee released his memorable rendition of Prine’s “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness” in 2005, in which his whispered vocals are at the forefront of the ballad as he showcases Prine’s vulnerable lyrics. The stripped down track includes delicate plucks of the acoustic guitar, highlighting Lee’s slowed and emotive singing style while reintroducing Prine’s song from 1986’s German Afternoons to the masses.
Bette Midler, “Hello in There”
A longtime Prine favorite and frequent cover by countless artists including Kris Kristofferson, Joan Baez and David Allan Coe, “Hello in There” was first featured on Prine’s 1971 self-titled debut. Bette Midler stuns with her cover, released several years later. Midler’s vocals shine on the delicate piano ballad and vivid story song about loneliness from the perspective of an older woman.
Bonnie Raitt, “Angel From Montgomery”
Raitt often credits her cover of Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery” as one of the most important songs she’s ever recorded. A fan favorite, Raitt sings of being a housewife in Montgomery, Ala., who struggles with an unsatisfied life and marriage all while dreaming of flying away. “Just give me one thing that I can hold on to,” she sings. Recorded for her 1974 project Streetlights, Raitt’s smoky vocals coupled with Prine’s adept storytelling and vivid imagery leave a lasting impact.
David Allan Coe, “You Never Even Called Me By My Name”
Prine penned “You Never Even Called Me By My Name” with longtime friend Steve Goodman, who recorded it for his 1971 album. Prine wasn’t included on the credits, as to not offend anyone in the country community. The country music industry kiss-off song later became more popular when covered by David Allan Coe for his 1975 album, Once Upon a Rhyme, where it peaked at No. 8 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
Dwight Yoakam, “Paradise”
“Paradise” has been covered by numerous acts over the years, but it’s Yoakam’s version that leaves the greatest mark with his distinctive vocals and music accompaniment. With delicate acoustic guitar finger picking, soaring banjo and fiddle accompaniment as well as Yoakam’s wavering singing style, “Paradise” is country music at its finest.
George Strait, “I Just Want to Dance With You”
“I Just Want to Dance With You” was penned by Prine and Roger Cook. It saw success on country radio when George Strait released the romantic tune in 1988 as the lead track to his album One Step at a Time. Peaking at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, Strait’s smooth vocals shine on the ballad alongside tropical flavors, sure to have caused many to two-step along at all the Texas dance halls.
Johnny Cash, “Sam Stone”
Justin Vernon, “Bruised Orange (Chain of Sorrow)”
Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon released his haunting cover of “Bruised Orange (Chain of Sorrow)” as a B-side to his single “Towers” in 2012, following its release on the 2010 compilation album Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine. Vernon’s version transforms Prine’s original into an intriguing musical arrangement with layered vocals that give the feel of a choir ensemble singing the poignant tune about difficult times while urging not to get angry or bitter.
Miranda Lambert, “That’s the Way the World Goes 'Round”
Lambert puts a fiery country rock spin on Prine’s “That’s the Way the World Goes 'Round” from his 1978 album, Bruised Orange. On Lambert’s recording, featured on 2009’s Revolution, the country singer infuses her distinctive brand of traditional country and rock ‘n’ roll influences with glittery electric guitar parts, a driving beat and angst-ridden vocals complete with a rollicking instrumental outro that no doubt shines in the live setting.
Zac Brown Band, “All the Best”
Zac Brown Band revisits Prine’s “All the Best” from the late singer-songwriter’s 1991 project The Missing Years. ZBB’s version keeps the stripped-down vibe and emotional pull of Prine’s original. Featured as the album closer on Zac Brown Band’s 2017 project Welcome Home, Brown’s vocals soar alongside light percussion and delicate harmonies.