Every time I tire of the more-faster-newer-now (which is often) I turn to someone like John Prine.
The 71-year-old songwriter has been releasing records for almost half a century and, with 50 years experience, his voice is a sane, even and empathetic one – tinged with just the right mix of reason and sentimentality.
The characters in his songs are not unlike the grace-seekers of Raymond Carver‘s fiction: ordinary people, likely losing more than winning, but more often than not trying. Their hearts are “like washing machines”, their luck’s never boundless, their sons die and their husbands leave and return, they have habits that sometimes they kick and sometimes they can’t.
I wrote about Prine very recently, and this post is an addendum of sorts – an acknowledgement of how one of his new songs stopped me in my tracks this week.
“Summer’s End” is – in the truest country music fashion – a lover’s plea for reconciliation. But not just any lover or any plea – this is an entreaty from a person in their senior years, with a voice of gravelled experience, someone who knows this call might be – in every way – their last shot.
And, weathered, sad and loving – it’s also a beautiful listen.