John Prine’s new video for “Summer’s End” packs an emotional wallop, carefully and beautifully rendering a story about a family grappling with loss.
“Summer’s end’s around the bend, just flying,” sings Prine in the opening line, summoning that bittersweet feeling of change in the song from his 2018 album The Tree of Forgiveness. Prine appears strumming his guitar in several scenes, but the narrative in the clip, directed by Kerrin Sheldon and Elaine McMillion Sheldon, centers on an older man and his young granddaughter, both trying to cope with the death of her mother (and his daughter). The details come out in brief flashes – long summer days, visiting her gravesite, the comfort of friends on the playground, and a TV news story about opioid overdoses.
At the conclusion of the clip, a note says “Dedicated to Max,” in honor of former Nashville mayor Megan Barry’s son Max, who died in 2017 from a combination of opioids and other drugs. Prine and Barry’s families are close and he performed at Max’s memorial service.
Prine recently clenched the Artist of the Year award at the 2018 Americana Honors & Awards, his third overall win in the category. It’s a continuation of his victory lap in 2018, having released The Tree of Forgiveness in March to his best-ever first-week sales, notching more than 50,000 equivalent albums. On Tuesday, he surprised a Grand Ole Opry crowd by performing his song “Paradise” with the Steeldrivers and other special guest Bill Murray.