Living in Austin, Texas, the so-called Live Music Capital of the World, I have heard the name ‘John Prine’ mentioned but never really knew who he was until I heard Keith Sykes share his memories of John and how after John died from COVID––they scattered his ashes in the river.
But I need to backtrack a bit to let you know who Keith Sykes is. Keith got the lead in a movie that I auditioned for in Japan. I had just gotten out of the army and was back in Japan for university and working part-time to help pay my way. The movie “Summer Soldiers” needed a lead that could sing and play the guitar––which I couldn’t––even though the director of the film wanted me for the lead. So Keith was brought in from New York, and I was assigned the role of the film’ s ‘heavy’. So anyway, that is how Keith and I met. When I found Keith on YouTube talking about his friendship with John Prine, I discovered a kindred spirit.
John Prine was born in 1948 (as was Keith). I was born in 1947. John served in the army in Germany. I served in the army in Japan and Turkey. Though he didn’t see action in Viet Nam, John was tuned into vets returning from war and what later came to be known as PTSD. Vets with PTSD often turn to drugs for relief and get hooked. John’s first album, released in 1971, featured Sam Stone, and Vets have strongly identified with the song ever since. Another anti-war song on his first album was Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You into Heaven Anymore.
John died of the CORNONA virus in April 2020 at the age of 73 and is fondly remembered by those in music.
His last song was I Remember Everything.
One of my favorite songs by John was featured on Austin City Limits- Jesus: The Missing Years.
Finally, for anyone of advanced years, John wrote Hello in There.