Farewell, Singer-Songwriter John Prine, 1946-2020

Let's just enjoy a few examples of this man's genius; he truly put his heart and soul into every song he wrote and sang
John Prine in the shadows playing an acoustic guitar. Photo by Danny Clinch

This is a rough one. Even though we knew that when John Prine went into the hospital recently suffering from the COVID-19 virus that the deck was stacked against him, given his age (73) and previous battles with cancer. But we were heartened by the report a few days ago that his condition had been upgraded from critical to stable. And his death still feels like a gut punch. One of America’s greatest songwriters has… moved on.

There will be many well-deserved eulogies and reflections from a who’s who of the music world (few songwriters were more respected and loved), but for now, let’s just enjoy a few examples of this man’s genius; he truly put his heart and soul into every song he wrote and sang.


Here are five of my favorite Prine albums: Diamonds in the Rough (1972), Common Sense (1975), The Missing Years (1991), For Better, or Worse (2016), Great Days: The John Prine Anthology (1993). Let us know your favorites!

Chicago pals John Prine and Steve Goodman perform Prine’s “Souvenirs.” Amazingly enough, these two guys played a concert together in the basement cafeteria of my freshman dorm at Northwestern University, in Evanston, Illinois, in the winter of 1972. I became a fan of both for life! —BJ
Bonnie Raitt was an early champion of Prine’s and included this song in her repertoire for decades.
Blair Jackson
Blair Jackson

Blair Jackson is the author of the definitive biography Garcia: An American Life and was senior editor at Acoustic Guitar before retiring in 2023.