Since John Prine’s passing after battling COVID-19, many heartfelt tributes expressed grief and recounted memories have been flooding in. And now it’s Elvis Costello’s turn.
In a lengthy Facebook post, Costello reminisces about his introduction to Prine, how the late songwriter solidified his friendship with playwright Alan Bleasdale, and dove into Prine’s approach towards songwriting.
“These were songs that no one else was writing, filled with details that only Prine’s eye or ear caught; the arcane radio, the damaged and the destitute,” Costello wrote. “The songs were filled with what sounded like sound advice from a friend in a crowded bar or a voice in the margins, but never one that was self-pitying or self-regarding.”
He also opened up about not trying to let Prine influence his own songwriting. “I 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,” he wrote. “His gift was to be able to still an audience to the scale of his song…”
Following more memories about Prine, Costello ends the piece with gratitude and a final memory with Prine and his wife, Fiona Whelan Prine.
He wrote, “It was a delightful supper of laughter and stories with songs cited and memories marked, closing only as the glass of a slowly smoldering vintage jukebox filled with smoke and John had to disconnect it and crack open a window, breaking the spell into a gentle goodnight… If that sounds like something John might have made up, then I guess I may have finally learned my lesson.”
Read Elvis Costello’s full essay below: