The loss of beloved singer/songwriter John Prine has opened a wound in the world of music, one that his peers and famous fans are filling in the only way they know how: by covering some of his most-cherished songs.
On Wednesday night’s A Late Show, host Stephen Colbert shared a story about how his then-girlfriend, now-wife sent him a mixtape with Prine’s “Paradise” on it, which he loved so much that he learned how to play it on guitar so he could serenade her over the phone with it.
While studying at Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music — where Prine had also spent time — Colbert said he learned how to play 1979’s “How Lucky,” a track he said taught him “how to be grateful for the things I don’t remember about childhood.”
Seeming on the verge of tears, Colbert reminisced about getting to know and befriend Prine — who died on Tuesday at age 73 of complications from the COVID-19 virus — and all the people he got to know who also knew and loved Prine, including Brandi Carlile, who performed “Summer’s End” with Prine and Sturgill Simpson on his show in 2018.
He then invited Carlile onto the show on Wednesday night (April 8) to talk about Prine and perform one of his most adored songs, “Hello in There,” from her self-quarantine at home. “There’s so many amazing and powerful messages that John Prine has left the world and people that weren’t familiar with his music are about to get a whole lot of truth dropped on them,” Carlile said.
“I think this is a song that John would have liked me to sing because this song refers to the people we’re all staying home to protect and it reminds us that older people aren’t expendable. That they made us who we are and have given us every single thing that we have.”