John Prine: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

 

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March 12, 2018 | Bob Boilen — An American treasure came to the Tiny Desk and even premiered a new song. John Prine is a truly legendary songwriter. For more than 45 years the 71-year-old artist has written some of the most powerful lyrics in the American music canon, including “Sam Stone,” “Angel From Montgomery,” “Hello In There” and countless others.

John Prine’s new songs are equally powerful and he opens this Tiny Desk concert with “Caravan of Fools,” a track he wrote with Pat McLaughlin and Dan Auerbach. Prine adds a disclaimer to the song saying, “any likeness to the current administration is purely accidental.” That song, and his second tune, the sweet tearjerker “Summer’s End,” are from John Prine’s first album of new songs in 13 years, The Tree of Forgiveness, produced by Dave Cobb. It was recorded with his longtime band in Nashville’s legendary RCA Studio A. Guests include Brandi Carlile, Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires. There’s even a songwriter’s co-credit with Phil Spector.

For this Tiny Desk Concert John Prine also reaches back to his great “kiss-off” song from 1991 called “All the Best,” and then plays “Souvenirs,” a song intended for his debut full-length but released the following year on his 1972 album Diamonds in the Rough. It’s just one of the many sentimental ballads Prine has gifted us. Over the years, his voice has become gruffer and deeper, due in part to his battle with squamous cell cancer on the right side of his neck, all of which makes this song about memories slipping by feel all the more powerful and sad.

“Broken hearts and dirty windows
Make life difficult to see
That’s why last night and this mornin’
Always look the same to me
I hate reading old love letters
For they always bring me tears
I can’t forgive the way they rob me
Of my sweetheart’s souvenirs”

John Prine’s latest album, The Tree Of Forgiveness, is due out April 13 on Oh Boy Records. It’s available for pre-order from John Prine’s official web site, iTunes and Amazon.

The Tree of Forgiveness is available for pre-order now.

SET LIST

  • “Caravan of Fools”
  • “Summer’s End”
  • “All the Best”
  • “Souvenirs”

MUSICIANS

  • John Prine
  • Jason Wilber
  • David Jacques
  • Kenneth Blevins

CREDITS

  • Producers: Bob Boilen, Morgan Noelle Smith
  • Creative Director: Bob Boilen
  • Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin
  • Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Maia Stern, Alyse Young
  • Production Assistant: Salvatore Maicki
  • Photo: Christina Ascani/NPR
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“Let Her Go” [Lyrics]

Well you only need the light when it’s burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go

Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low
Only hate the road when you’re missin’ home
Only know you love her when you let her go
And you let her go

Staring at the bottom of your glass
Hoping one day you’ll make a dream last
But dreams come slow and they go so fast

You see her when you close your eyes
Maybe one day you’ll understand why
Everything you touch surely dies

But you only need the light when it’s burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go

Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low
Only hate the road when you’re missin’ home
Only know you love her when you let her go

Staring at the ceiling in the dark
Same old empty feeling in your heart
‘Cause love comes slow and it goes so fast

Well you see her when you fall asleep
But never to touch and never to keep
‘Cause you loved her too much
And you dived too deep

Well you only need the light when it’s burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go

Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low
Only hate the road when you’re missin’ home
Only know you love her when you let her go

And you let her go
And you let her go
Well you let her go

‘Cause you only need the light when it’s burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go

Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low
Only hate the road when you’re missin’ home
Only know you love her when you let her go

‘Cause you only need the light when it’s burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go

Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low
Only hate the road when you’re missin’ home
Only know you love her when you let her go

And you let her go

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