An open letter to John Prine
By William Tecku
Dear John Prine, I’ve been meaning to write to say thank you for writing moving tunes that told the truth. But tonight, as I search for my “forever” stamps by the light of Mortality’s lamp, your obituary breaking news makes the full moon sing the blues.
Don’t know why I never get to all the things I mean to do like writing this letter to you. You get snail and e-mail inside the Pearly Gates? In heaven as you drink your vodka & ginger ale and puff away on what you told us would be “a cigarette nine miles long” know how I always did appreciate that never for royalties or accolades did you early or late put pen to paper or play guitar until your fingers ached to write songs that made me laugh, that made my heart break.
On the bright side of tonight’s dark side of the moon, at least you didn’t die young, didn’t die alone, didn’t come home from the army like “Sam Stone,” didn’t miss years like you sang Jesus did, didn’t have to write Abigail Van Buren like in “Dear Abby” you did. At least at the age of twenty-five your soul was old enough to write “Angel from Montgomery.” At least your better angels kept you from flying as high as Icarus when your words and music flew you from obscurity to celebrity. At least you knew the love of a loving wife and family. At least duringyour 50-year career your songwriting peers, Kristofferson, Goodman and Dylan, to name a few, applauded like your fans and were in awe of you. At least like Twain, Hemingway, and Edna St. Vincent Millay you lived up life and wrote it down, at least, until the Corona blues sang your body to a higher ground.
You sing me to your mom’s hauled-away home in “Paradise.” You strum me to surreal shores in “Lake Marie.” You get me daydreaming about throwing away my TV when I hear you sing “Spanish Pipedream.”
Free falling at the speed of light I fell for someone’s happiness listening to your “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness.”
As a man of letters you are rare. Your songs are letters written spare. Your 183 words speak like a million in “Hello in There.”
Good night, John.
Take your final bow.
Thanks to you we get by better somehow. A Pink Lady moon shines for you to infinity. As readers re-read your biography what they remember best is your legacy: With great care you shared your humanity.
Sincerely yours, a fan . . . one of many.