On April 7, John Prine, one of the most influential songwriters of our time, died as a result of COVID-19. Prine was known for both touching ballads and humorous lyrics about love and life and has been referred to as the Mark Twain of songwriting. In 2020, he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. On Monday, April 20, at 7 pm, Island musician Chrysal Parrot has organized fellow Island musicians to hold a virtual concert for Prine on Zoom.
“I was born in ‘71 and my father was literally playing his records to me in my crib,” Parrot said. “He was probably the most formative musician in my life and when I learned to play the guitar, his were the first songs I learned to play.”
Parrot had been thinking about doing a live tribute concert to Prine for years but when she heard he was in the hospital with COVID-19 the project became more urgent and because of social distancing she decided to pull together the event virtually through the social media platform Zoom. Parrot put out a group message on Facebook and 17 musicians responded. “We’re very fortunate to have these people involved,” Parrot said.
Prine is known as the songwriter’s songwriter. In 2009 Bob Dylan told The Huffington Post that Prine was one of his favorite songwriters claiming that “Prine’s stuff is pure Proustian existentialism.”
And Roger Waters, co-founder of Pink Floyd, said that Prine’s music was extraordinarily eloquent, he “lived on that same plane as Neil Young and Lennon.”
Local musicians who will be performing in the virtual concert were equally effusive about Prine’s music. “I heard him when I was in my early twenties,” Tristan Israel said, “and I was blown away by his style and writing. And his writing runs the full gamut of subjects.” Israel will be performing Prine’s song “Paradise.”
Sean McMahon of West Tisbury says that Prine left so much music to remember. “I loved his sense of humor,” he said, “the first Prine song I ever learned was ‘In Spite of Ourselves.’” McMahon and his wife Siren Mayhew will be performing the song originally sung by Prine and Iris Dement.
In Spite of Ourselves
She don’t like her eggs all runny
She thinks crossin’ her legs is funny
She looks down her nose at money
She gets it on like the Easter Bunny
She’s my baby, I’m her honey
I’m never gonna let her go …
McMahon and Mayhew will also be singing the poignant ballad “Angel from Montgomery,” made popular by Bonnie Raitt.
While originally from Chicago, in recent years, Prine spent much of his time at his home in Galway, Ireland. The president of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, issued this statement after Prine’s death: “It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of John Prine, songwriter, musician and great friend of Ireland. John Prine was a true master of songcraft. A gifted and evocative lyricist, he was the songwriter other songwriters looked to for inspiration. He was a voice of tolerance, inclusion, whimsy, and protest.”
On Monday evening, the following artists will appear in John Prine’s Virtual Tribute Concert:
Details of how to log in and view the concert on Zoom will be provided on the John Prine Virtual Tribute Concert Facebook page. The concert will start streaming at 7 sharp.