It was posted about six months ago on YouTube, not long after John Prine had died, and showed up underneath where an intimate concert by John Prine was embedded. The person wrote --
"I’m 60 years old. Lifelong Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Leonard Cohen , Chris Smithers , etc fan. So how, how, oh my god how is it that I never heard of John Prine until yesterday?"
To be clear, I don't think it's even remotely inexplicable that someone hadn't heard of John Prine. But someone who is "60 years old. Lifelong Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Leonard Cohen , Chris Smithers , etc fan" not having heard about John Prine -- a core of music for which Prine has been at the center for half a century -- that is inexplicable. Almost beyond comprehension. If only because lovers of that specific music world know the details of it like family.
An interesting addendum is that after most YouTube comments, when there are replies, usually two or three are made, or maybe on occasion as many as half a dozen, or if it really sets people off, 20. This comment had 102. I was curious to read them, if only to see someone express what I was thinking but didn't want to say in public out of politeness, but in the end passed because I didn't think I could bear reading the scathing responses. After all, the poor fellow admitted the inexplicable error of his ways, so that counts for, well...at least, something.
By the way, the comment is all the more inexplicable and pointed when you know that one of the songs that Prine sings in this concert (and tells a very funny story around) is "Sam Stone," which is the first song I ever heard by him (on "The Midnight Special" radio show on WFMT in Chicago) and remains one of my two favorite of his. The larger point is that it was also famously recorded by...Johnny Cash -- who the fellow put first on his list of those he was a lifelong fan of -- famous because there was one line in the song that Cash felt he couldn't sing and asked Prine if he could change it. And Prine has since said he wouldn't let anyone change his words -- except one person, Johnny Cash, and so it got changed for that one performer only.
This is all worth the telling because it leads to the concert itself, which is wonderful. Thanks to Eric Boardman for the heads-up. It comes from the "House of Strombo," which is a spinoff of sorts from George Stroumboulopoulos's Canadian radio show. The "House of Strombo" are living-room performances in his home.
Though this intimate concert was largely to promote his new and sadly final album, The Tree of Forgiveness, the concert is a mix of old and new. And as wonderful as the songs are, since Prine is Prine his commentary between numbers is as whimsical, charming, self-effacing and sharp and as the music.
But again, always remember the next time you have to slap your head for doing something utterly inexplicable -- "I’m 60 years old. Lifelong Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Leonard Cohen , Chris Smithers , etc fan. So how, how, oh my god how is it that I never heard of John Prine until yesterday?"
And just hope that you can save the moment by following it up with something as good as what the next part of his comment was, that I left out above -- "I will never have time on this earth to adequately grasp and appreciate the depth and beauty of this miraculous artists work. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me."