Exciting news for John Prine this week: The Grammys announced that they’re giving him a well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award at next year’s ceremonies. He is part of a diverse class of recipients that also includes Chicago, Roberta Flack, Isaac Hayes, Iggy Pop, Public Enemy, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. The Grammys have honored Prine three times previously: He won awards for Best Contemporary Folk Album for The Missing Years (1991) and Fair and Square (2005), and he was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2015.
There’s also some exciting news about my book, John Prine: In Spite of Himself. Four years after its original publication, and two years after the release of a paperback edition, Audible has released an audiobook version.Nick Sullivan, a veteran audiobook narrator and character actor who grew up in Tennessee, has done a great job turning my words into an entertaining listen.
If you’re looking for an easy last-minute holiday gift for a music-loving friend or relative, look no further!
If a writer’s lucky, a book takes on a life of its own out in the world. Four years after its original publication and two years after the paperback version hit the streets, John Prine: In Spite of Himself continues to take me to unexpected places. One of them was my ancestral homeland: Spartanburg, South Carolina. (My mother’s family was from nearby Anderson.) I headed down I-85 from Greensboro recently to attend my first trade show by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) and talk about the book.
But this was no ordinary reading: It was a gathering of phenomenal talent brought together by Shari Smith of Working Title Farm in Boone, North Carolina. She began her TRIO project in 2015, and invited me to participate for its final year in 2020. Here’s how Shari describes TRIO: “One book is given to both a songwriter and a visual artist. They write a song and create a work of art inspired by the book they read fulfilling their TRIO. Each TRIO will travel to museums, galleries, and literary events throughout the following year.”
The Spartanburg event gave me my first glimpse at the paintings created by Marianne Huebner, which beautifully capture the earthy, deceptively simple nature of Prine’s songs. Songwriter Sarah Aili recorded a gorgeous, impassioned version of Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery” to round out my part of TRIO 2020.
The SIBA show in Spartanburg was just a warmup. Watch the TRIO Facebook page for gatherings across the Southeast in the coming year.
There’s another exciting new development with John Prine: In Spite of Himself that’s not quite ready for unveiling. For more on that, watch this space.
A group of Michigan musicians has added a new twist: They’re doing an entire Prine tribute tour.
“His repertoire is so expansive and cuts through to the core of human emotions,” tour organizer Mark Lavengood, Dobro player for Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys, told the Traverse City Record-Eagle. “I fell in love with John Prine and his work late in college. I’ve always wanted to set up a stretch of John Prine tribute shows.”