If you already knew about this and didn’t tell me, you’re in big trouble, lady.
A couple weeks ago, I was scrolling YouTube for sad songs (as one does), and stumbled onto a house concert that took place in December 2018. John Prine playing to a living room-sized audience, in George Stroumboulopoulos’s living room.
It’s beautifully filmed and recorded, and so intimate. No glare of concert-hall lighting, no waving phones. All the singing-along (and they sing along with every word) is silent.
Gordon Lightfoot was in the front row, eyes shining.
There were tears on the screen, and tears in my living room. John Prine’s plainspoken eloquence, the utter decency in his songs, were just what I needed in that moment. To watch this concert with the knowledge of what was to come—that John Prine would die in 2020, in the early weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic, is a heavy thing.
His love of life, and our flawed lives, was a gift. We can only be grateful, and smile at all the funny lines.