By Blair Jackson

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.


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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.