John Prine is More Than Just an Old Country Star

John Prine is in critical, but stable condition with COVID-19. His rep confirmed on March 30 that the 73-year-old was in the ICU on a respirator, while his wife asked fans via social media to send lots of love and prayers.

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Stars like Kacey Musgraves and Roger Waters (Pink Floyd) have been showing their support. But it’s not just Top 40 musicians that John Prine inspires. He is a strong force within the DIY music scene as well, sharing the stage with up-and-coming artists and even running his own independent label, Oh Boy Records.

Prine came up in the Chicago folk music scene back in the late ‘60s where he wrote tragic storylines to emotional acoustic guitar riffs. In 2009, king of folk music and Prine fan Bob Dylan told HuffPost that “Prine’s stuff is pure Proustian existentialism. Midwestern mind-trips to the nth degree.” However, since Prine was a Kentuckian at heart (born in Illinois, but with a father from Paradise, Kentucky, he was raised as “pure Kentuckian”) he had country music flowing through his veins. In 1971, he wrote “Paradise,” which quickly became a country classic.

John Prine ft. John Burns, “Paradise”

Since then, he’s become an Americana and folk idol. Prine continues to inspire musicians to this day, like with his classic song from 1999, “In Spite of Ourselves,” a duet with Iris DeMent. Or the 2008 hit “The Tree of Forgiveness,” which made it to No. 5 on the Billboard charts. He’s shared the stage with up-and-coming musicians like Margo Price, frontwoman to Shannon & the Clams, Shannon Shaw’s solo project, and Kelsey Waldon. Waldon, in fact, was one of the latest artists he signed to his label. She told BTRtoday last year that Prine has been her idol since she started writing music and he continues to inspire her. “He’s a huge reason I moved to Nashville,” she said. “It is absolutely an honor to work with John.

John Prine & Iris DeMent, “In Spite of Ourselves”

Andrea Scanniello, the touring keys player for Shannon Shaw, says it was “very humbling” to share the stage with John Prine for a WFUV event at New York’s historic Beacon Theater in 2018. “He’s an amazing songwriter and such a good storyteller that it makes his performance super captivating,” she says.

Prine was then 71 and playing most of his shows sitting down. However, Scaniello tells BTRtoday he still got up and danced for one of his songs, which tugged at everyone’s heartstrings. “I definitely laughed and cried and felt so many emotions [during Prine’s performance],” she says. “Everyone who performed that night [got on stage] and sang ‘Paradise’ with him, which was his last song and it was really surreal.”

With Prine still in the hospital, every fan is in constant worry. Now’s the perfect time to have your John Prine phase, and artists both big and independent agree. Check him out on Spotify below.