Hello in There. John Prine Dies at 73

Hello in There. John Prine Dies at 73

Deeply sad news today as John Prine dies at 73.

One of the soldiers that lost their live due to Covid-19. It saddens me along with the loss of life we are witnessing around the world. All of the lives lost are important. It saddens us to the core. This is an awful time.

Stay strong, stay apart, stay healthy, be together. Maybe a couple hours of John Prine will perk you up.

John Prine tunes have perked me up over the years. I was introduced to John Prine from one of my early life mentors Gary Bynum of Packwood Washington. I was ski bumming in Washington State at White Pass Ski Area beginning in the winter of 1992. I had walked out of my job as a line cook at the Pine Cone Cafe in Tacoma leaving it for snowier slopes and the dream of becoming a full time ski bum. Again.

I had failed the season before living in Bend Oregon the winter of 90-91. Did not quit have my shit together to pull off that adventure. Had to move back before the ski season had ended, back to Tacoma, back to 406 Yakima. The 406 must have been foreshadowing…

Back on the downstairs couch for a spell. Pre John Prine. Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, and Seattle style grunge was the music I lived for. Big time. Would see lots of live music in the bar scene around Tacoma/Seattle. A great time to roaming watching music, drinkin.’

I escaped the city when a couple of my friends moved to White Pass for the winter. Dave and Brian had room in the VW Bus for me and I gleefully hopped in…never turning back. Throwing caution to the wind, for a life with skis attached to my feet. That only lasted 13 years.

Spent the winter at the ski area and never went back to the city. Brian and Dave moved back, but I stayed in the middle of nowhere in Packwood Washington, a dying logging town. My landlord was Bob Veech. A hi-techie that invented a process that he sold for a gazillion dollars. He had a friend Gary Bynum that I then worked with for a number of years at The Summit House, a private restaurant at White Pass Ski Area. (No longer there)

Gary and Bob were playing a John Prine album, titled John Prine,  over and over and over during a remodel of the house I rented a room in, at Bob’s. I thought it was some Dylan, but then Gary lined me out, and was horrified that I had made it to age 22 without hearing John Prine. Gary would teach me many life lessons. He, like Bob Lay, could teach you those lessons without yelling, making a big deal of it, or with a heavy hand. Nope. It isn’t until years later that the impacts of mentors like Bob Lay, Gary Bynum, and friends like Franny show up.

I bootlegged that cassette tape, plugged it inand listened to it until I wore it out.

That John Prine tape got me through some of those despondent mid 20’s years. While many may think that it is always rosy living the dream as ski bum/trout bum…I am here to tell you, it’s not always thigh deep powder runs and readily catchable bank sipping browns. 

I battled through some depression periods in my 20’s and 30’s and John Prine helped me along the way. A big help was John Prine and his music, and his words. Prine guided me through some of those turbulent waters. I thank him for the help.

Been solid since then. I have not listened to much Prine in the last 20 years. Not because I don’t love it, it’s because I’ve been pretty damn happy. I’m not discounting those who can listen to Prine, all the time through good and bad, it’s that I have used the Prine tapes to get me through some of my darker periods.

But today I play it loud, and sing, and smile though the tears. We dance for the world today, everyday. To get through this bullshit we are all a part of. We all play a hand in this journey. The world is a bit darker today, and Prine will guide us through battle.

For the friends I have lost over the years that I have had the Prine connection with. Bob Veech, Gary Bynum, Francis Patrick O’Callahan (Franny), Michelle Wells…all gone. I salute you today.

Lake Marie is a fantastic tune. One of my favorite tunes. A friend of mine who I met in Bozeman Montana, John Troy loved to quote this Prine song. He loved to ask me “Do you know what blood looks like in a black and white video? Shadows.”

I often tell that story in the drift boat with guests. John Prine and Peaceful Waters. Lake Marie. I am reminded of John Troy, John Prine, and the Missouri River. That is my memory of Peaceful Waters.

The Missouri River is my Peaceful Waters.

Whistle and Fish is an all timer for those who like to fish. Catchy.

The Speed of the Sound of Loneliness is epic.

Music is woven into the threads of our lives. John Prine tunes have played a role in my life path, my journey, my being. And I am thankful for that, for Prine, for mentors, for friends.

Turn it up, play it loud, sing, dance, let it all out. Do it for yourself, for your family, for the world out there today. Do it.

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  • FlyFinaticLou
    April 8, 2020 3:12 pm

    “That’s The Way The World Goes Round” – 2016 video from ‘The Late Show’ (Colbert), just recently shown (1st time) about 2 weeks ago – see at CBS’s website under “CLIPS” from ‘The Late Show’.
    I never had the pleasure of hearing or knowing of Mr. Prine, but thanks to ‘The Late Show’ & now YOU, I do. I know sounds like I lived in a cave . . . but I was too busy with other shit I guess . . . Your 20’s & 30’s were my 40’s & 50’s and by then I was firmly planted in mainstream Jazz and the Classical Masters. Today I listen, long & hard, to MR. Prine, again thanks for this post. Nice to know I wasn’t the only one struggling in my 20’s & early 30’s.

  • Not many willing to share their past as done here. Those that are strong can and thanks for the story Mark. Made me think of my parents who are no longer here but wish they were – I’d a done a few things different with them as they grew older. More patience. More time with them. The finality of death makes me pause lately – and gratitude for the simplist things goes a long way. Each day we get that chance to be kind to someone. To say hello or just lend a hand. Just be real ….. be who you are ….. treat others how you’d like to be treated as you only get one life to try. You will get back what you give. But give some. Live that life you really want.

  • Great post. Words well spoken. It damn sure ain’t always rainbows and unicorns, but it IS worth the pain. Thanks for sharing a part of who you are. You’re a good egg.

  • Braden Lewis
    April 8, 2020 6:55 pm

    Right on.

  • Thanks for sharing. Very sad to see him go. I know how you feel. To help get through these stay at home days I tie flies every night listening to loud upbeat music on Alexa. I have been getting out my practice fly rod and getting my rhythm back (thanks for the reminders). Before I close my eyes to sleep at night I visualize putting my drift boat on my favorite stretches rowing and enjoying lunches on the river. I read the blog everyday. Can’t wait to get back to Craiglandia and stop in at the shop. Take care and stay healthy!

  • Well…

    Very nicely written, kind sir. And I eep those videos coming.

    And thanks for finding me a ride back at Thanksgiving. It was cold AF (as the kids say) but I really wanted to go out. You were headed to the dentist, but got me a guide same day before a storm rolled in. (And be rowed his ass off so we hit that beautiful Craig bridge before it got dark and we froze to death. A fine memory, that day. I’ll cherish it.

    I noticed earlier that my daughter is wearing the same sweatshirt you are down here in S Florida, and then your post about Prine hit my feed. Take care, mister. As always, let me know if you want to scare up some peacock bass down south one day. They’re dumber than the rainbows, but crazy fun.

  • allan roberts
    April 9, 2020 7:18 am

    Thanks for sharing your very personnel journey…and your fav John Prine tunes……It would be nice to think that John is home now……..https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXbEFTv9zr0

  • Funny how certain kinds of musicians/music can influence our lives. I’ve been a big John Prine too…though my earlier years were similarly influenced by a Maine musician named Dave Mallett…check him out while waiting out the “quarantine”

  • Mark, thank you for the personal reflection and John Prine tribute. I’m sure he has made it to heaven, shaken God’s hand, started a rock and roll band, got a cocktail, kissed the pretty girl on the tilt-a-whirl and is smoking a cigarette nine miles long.

  • Greg Jarvis
    April 9, 2020 2:39 pm

    Cheers Mark. Look forward to a visit when they let us back over the line…

  • That’s the way that the world goes round
    You’re up one day and the next you’re down
    It’s half an inch of water and you think you’re gonna drown
    That’s the way that the world goes ’round

    RIP, thanks for being here

  • Powerful post Mark. Appreciate it.

  • Hello Mark,
    Cool story, my Prine is Eric Clapton from mid/late 60s til now. Tis a wonder the man is still alive with all the dope and booze he went through! Hope to see you this summer

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