Elvis Costello pens lengthy, heartfelt message in tribute to John Prine

He recalled imitating him "in order to raise and find my own voice"

Elvis Costello has shared a lengthy tribute to the late John Prine, who died last week with coronavirus-related complications.

The US country and folk musician passed away in Nashville on Monday, April 6. He had been hospitalised on March 26 with a “sudden onset” of COVID-19 symptoms.

Posting to his official Facebook account yesterday (April 13), Costello recalled how he “wanted to be John Prine” when he 19 years old and “pretending to be a songwriter”.

Later in his message, the singer recounted discovering Prine’s music for the very first time. “My own introduction was via an Atlantic Record single plucked out of a discount bin of 45rpm records on the counter of Rushworth and Dreaper in Liverpool,” Costello said.

I was speaking today to my pal and Best Man, the playwright Alan Bleasdale about the sad passing of John Prine. We…

Posted by Elvis Costello on Monday, April 13, 2020


“It was a copy of ‘Sam Stone’ backed by ‘Illegal Smile’, which in two short songs showed me everything that I would come to appreciate in John’s writing; on the A-side, a song of incredible empathy, an unflinching account of an addicted veteran and the impact of his torment on his family, all written with the authority of a man who had served in the army, while the b-side, was a good-humoured celebration of forbidden pleasures.”

Costello added: “If John Prine had only written his initial self-titled album, his place among America’s great songwriters would be secure.”

Elsewhere, the musician remembered joining forces with Prine for ‘A Concert For A Landmine Free World’ in 2002. The event had been set up US peace advocate and veteran Bobby Muller.

“…John himself sang different songs from his catalogue every night, always casting a spell to which the others would have to respond,” Costello said. “There was never a heavy hand to the way his voice or his songs connected to the objective of the tour.”

Costello revealed that early in his career he “had to put aside the quiet songs that I had written in imitation of John Prine in order to raise and find my own voice.”

You can read the full passage above.

Meanwhile, Roger Waters has also paid tribute to Prine by covering his track ‘Paradise’. “My friend John Prine died. This is his song… Miss you, brother,” he wrote in the video’s caption.

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