“We lost one of my all-time favorites…a man that taught me how to write songs,” Eric Church says in a new video tribute to John Prine, who died Tuesday at 73 from complications related to COVID-19. With that brief introduction, he plays a minute-and-a-half or so of Prine’s song “Long Monday,” a track off Prine’s 1991 album Fair & Square.
“You and me sitting in the back of my memory, like a honeybee buzzing round a glass of sweet Chablis,” Church sings, wrapping his high-register country voice around Prine’s bittersweet lyrics about missing one’s lover. Fair & Square was Prine’s first album after beating stage four cancer and his voice was a little gruffer on the original version.
Church is just the latest in a stream of artists to honor Prine with musical tributes. Brandi Carlile sang “Hello in There” on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert on Wednesday night, Natalie Maines and her family re-created “Angel From Montgomery,” and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy sang “Please Don’t Bury Me.” In a remembrance for Rolling Stone, Todd Snider recalled first meeting the songwriter in a hotel in Memphis and driving him around town, sharing cigarettes.
On Sunday, Church debuted the hopeful new song “Never Break Heart” on the ACM special Our Country.