A hard year got a little harder for the music community when country-folk great John Prine died April 7. The 73-year-old had been hospitalized for more than a week, as news broke last month that Prine was being treated for COVID-19 symptoms.
Tributes to the revered singer-songwriter, whose imagistic storytelling and common-man wisdom has influenced generations of Americana artists, have been pouring in the past 36 hours, including from friend and collaborator Brandi Carlile. On Wednesday, Carlile appeared on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” to honor Prine by playing “Hello in There” from his 1971 debut album, delivered with a timely message.
“I think that this is a song that John would like me to sing, because this song refers to the people that we’re all staying home to protect,” Carlile said in the taped home performance, which you can watch below. “And it reminds us that older people aren’t expendable, that they made us who we are and they’ve given us every single thing that we have. So, even though John never got to get old — and we all would’ve liked for him to — at the age of 24 when he wrote this song, he understood this.”
Carlile performed on Prine’s final album, “The Tree of Forgiveness,” which earned him glowing reviews and several Grammy nominations. In 2018, Carlile and country rocker Sturgill Simpson accompanied Prine during a “Late Show” performance to promote the album.