John Prine died earlier this week from complications related to COVID-19, and many musicians and fans of the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter have since paid tribute to his legacy. Stephen Colbert is one such fan, opening up a segment on The Late Show with a heartfelt eulogy on how Prine personally touched his life.
“I first really got to know John Prine’s music when my then-girlfriend, now my wife, sent me her first cassette tape when we were dating, and it started with ‘Paradise’ by John Prine,” he said. Colbert loved the song so much, he said, that he learned it on guitar so that he could play it over the phone for her while they were living in different cities. Colbert went on to attend the Old Town School of Folk Music, where Prine had also studied, and eventually got to meet Prine himself.
Throughout his time as a late-night host, Colbert even performed with Prine and had him on his show as a musical guest, most recently with Sturgill Simpson and Brandi Carlile. At the end of his eulogy, Colbert shared a video of Carlile paying tribute to the late songwriter from her house in Maple Valley, Washington, which she called “a great honor.”
“There’s so many amazing and powerful messages that John Prine has left the world, and for the people who weren’t familiar with his music, they’re about to get a whole lot of truth dropped on them, which I am really happy about, at least,” she said.
With her guitar, Carlile performed “Hello in There,” about “the people we’re all staying home to protect.”
“It reminds us that old people aren’t expendable, that they made us who were are and they’ve given us every single thing that we have,” she said. “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.”