John Prine On Music, Cancer And Why He Never Expected To Be A Recording Artist

by Marie Rodriguez

This is FRESH AIR. I’m David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross. Today’s guest is songwriter, singer, and guitarist John Prine. Prine released his first album in 1971 with several songs that remain staples of his repertoire, inclusive of “Angel From Sir Bernard Law,” “Paradise,” “Sam Stone” and “Hello In There.” Last week, he changed into inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. This followed an honor he acquired in 2016, while Prine turned into recognized through the writers’ corporation PEN for lyrics of literary excellence. Among the numerous performers who’ve recorded his songs are Johnny Cash, Bonnie Raitt, and Bette Midler.

Terry Gross spoke with John Prine last year when he turned into on excursion to promote his new album “The Tree of Forgiveness,” his first album of latest songs in extra than a decade.

It’s certainly a form of terrific that he is nonetheless appearing. In 1996, he had an essential neck surgical operation to get rid of a cancerous tumor. In 2013, he become operated on once more, this time for lung most cancers. But he is made a remarkable comeback, each recording, and journeying.


BIANCULLI: Let’s start with music from “Tree Of Forgiveness.” This is “Summer’s End,” co-written with Pat McLaughlin. Brandi Carlile sings backup vocals.


JOHN PRINE: (Singing) Summer’s give up’s around the bend, just flying. The swimming fits are on the line, simply drying. I’ll meet you there for our verbal exchange. I wish I did not break your entire vacation. Well, you in no way realize how some distance from domestic you’re feeling until you’ve watched the shadows across the ceiling. Well, I don’t know, but I can see it snowing. In your automobile, the home windows are huge open. Just come on home. Come on domestic. No, you oughtn’t to be on my own. Just come on domestic. Valentines break hearts and minds at random…


TERRY GROSS, BYLINE: John Prine, welcome to FRESH AIR. It is a delight to have you ever right here. Is there a story at the back of that tune?

PRINE: Well, the massive story at the back of that specific track, “Summer’s End,” to start with, it’s my favored track from “The Tree Of Forgiveness.” You recognize, it just got here out so quite. A good friend of mine, Pat McLaughlin, and I wrote that tune. And we have been writing together – we have been buddies longer than this, however, we’ve got been writing together considering my “Missing Years” document in ’91.

And we are – it’s simply uncanny the way we write together. I imply we are able to finish each other’s sentences. Do you recognize? I’ll just throw a photograph at him, and he comes returned with one. And we don’t genuinely decide what the problem is that we are writing approximately. We just sort of go along with something sounds true and feels true to both people. And the reality that that music ended – like this is how we approached it and it ended up as pretty as it did and is lonesome and plenty of other matters turned into a marvel to me due to the fact we were literally going – like, it becomes like ping pong. We were going from side to side with each line within the tune.

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