Gone but not forgotten is singer songwriter John Prine. He died Tuesday of the virus. He was seventy-three and in poor health.
I was introduced to John Prine’s music in the early 70’s by my neighbor, friend, and drinking buddy, Mike. Mike was a Vietnam vet and a postal worker – as was Prine, a postal worker, but not a Nam vet. I used to go over to Mike’s (He lived about six miles away, which in the mountains of Colorado in those days counted as ‘neighbors’.) and we’d play chess, drink Cuba Libres, eat Mike’s homemade, super-hot Texas chili, and listen to John Prine and Jerry Jeff Walker.
were my favorite years, no question. Because I was married two times, divorced two times, lived in a small cabin at 8,400 feet in Conifer, Colorado; and made my living tending bar at clubs in Denver. I seriously didn’t give a hoot about anything but drugs, sex, and Rock & Roll. Living was easy but hard, if that makes sense?
We didn’t have power in my 500 square foot cabin, hauled in water from a well, heated it on a wood stove, and bathed in a steel tub. I had a garden and worked all day, either cutting firewood, improving the cabin, road, or shoveling snow. The drive into Glendale, thirty miles, I did six nights a week. Transition time, I called it.
There was the Great Inflation, when gas went from twenty-five cents a gallon to a buck. Overnight! But I didn’t mind because I made tons of cash every night. And John Prine was singing to me.
The ticket stub is from a concert Mike and I went to in 1979, at the Rainbow Music Hall. The price? Six dollars and fifty cents.
In the early eighties, the club I worked had an “Urban Cowboy” bar, upstairs, and I was “The Sheriff”. The deejay, a friend, would spin my favorites – Prine, Walker, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and the boys. A few girls, too. My waitress, “Little Cloud”, became my third wife.
And then the shit hit the fan, as the saying goes, and John Prine sang often of. As in That’s the way the world goes round, “you’re up one day, and the next you’re down, It’s a half an inch of water, and you think you’re gonna drown”.
is the year of The Virus. And it took John Prine. There is some irony in that. Prine sang a lot about death and dying, and loneliness.
Yesterday I paid tribute to him all day, here in The Magpie Cafe. I don’t have a record player anymore, but I’ve kept some of his albums. And thanks to Spotify, could listen to his music whilst I sat and drank. Cuba Libres, of course. And remembered back when … .
I don’t know where Mike is today, if he’s even alive. He moved back to Texas after his wife switched teams. And, he drank a lot. We lost touch. I’ve not been able to track him down. But, along about my fourth cocktail, an old friend did call. From back-in-the-day. He, too, was a fan. Saw Prine at the Lincoln Theater, in New York city.
Then two other friends called. Or did I call them? I can’t remember. Anyway, it was quite a day.
Thanks, John. You were one-of-a-kind. Thanks for the memories, the music, and all your songs.
You made my world less lonely.