Singer-songwriter John Prine has died at age 73 from complications from the coronavirus. He died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, says his family, who announced his death. During his five decade career he wrote classics such as “Angel From Montgomery,” “Hello in There,” “Dear Abby” and “Illegal Smile.”
Read the full obituary at Associated Press
His wife Fiona said last month that she had tested positive for COVID-19 and she has since recovered, but her husband was hospitalized on March 26 with coronavirus symptoms. He was put on a ventilator and remained in the intensive care unit for several days.
Prine’s mischief shined in songs like “Illegal Smile,” which he swore wasn’t about marijuana; “Spanish Pipedream,” about a topless waitress with “something up her sleeve;” and “Dear Abby,” in which Prine imagines the advice columnist getting fed up with whiners and hypochondriacs.
Many others adopted his songs. Bonnie Raitt made a signature tune out of “Angel from Montgomery,” about the stifled dreams of a lonely housewife, and performed it at the 2020 Grammys ceremony. Bette Midler recorded “Hello in There,” Prine’s poignant take on old age. Prine wrote “Unwed Fathers” for Tammy Wynette, and “Love Is on a Roll” for Don Williams.
Prine’s songs were covered a lot, but not so much by singing show contestants. I suspect he didn’t always say yes to artists wishing to perform his songs.
However, there were a couple of The Voice contestants who performed “Angel From Montgomery,” including Marybeth Byrd of Team Blake Shelton in the fall of 2019. Season 13 runner-up Addison Agen sang the classic song for the Playoffs, while season 10 winner and runner up, Alisan Porter and Adam Wakefield sang it as a duet.
Here’s John Prine and Bonnie Raitt performing the song for the Americana Honors fall 2019.