For a songwriter, you know you’ve made it if you’re invited to John Prine’s annual Christmas party, and thus also to become a member of his “family.” Each year, the legendary singer-songwriter gathers some of Nashville’s finest pickers and singers, collectively known as the Whole Damn Family, to ring in the holiday season with an intimate concert. About five or six holiday seasons ago, Kacey Musgraves was one of his adopted musical daughters, and introduced herself to her host in quite a bold way.
“This little girl comes up to me with her buddy…. They wanted to take me out in the parking lot and get me high. I said, ‘Uh, gee, thanks but… no, thanks,'” Prine recalls of meeting Musgraves before the show. “We had our picture taken together and the next thing I know, I’m over at my record company, Oh Boy Records, and I hear this tape. It’s Kacey singing this song about how she’d like to burn one with John Prine.”
Fast forward to this January and the two (seemingly sober) songwriters met for another revered musical tradition, not in Music City but on the high seas, aboard the Cayamo: A Journey Through Song cruise. Setting sail last month, Prine was one of the performers who entertained voyagers with several shows on the Norwegian Pearl ship, including an in-the-round session with Musgraves. Seated with their guitars at the ready, Prine told the audience all about Musgraves’ smoking invitation, with his collaborator noting that she was not successful in her quest to put an illegal smile on his face. Musgraves explained to the Cayamo crowd that her ode to Prine, “Burn One… ,” was one of the first songs she wrote when she moved to Nashville.
“I can’t figure out what I like so much about that song,” Prine joked before Musgraves sang the tune, whose chorus declares, “My idea of heaven is to burn one with John Prine.” (Watch a fan-shot video of the performance above.)
The 2015 Cayamo Cruise also featured Lyle Lovett, Brandi Carlile, Nikki Lane, Lucinda Williams, Holly Williams, Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale, among many others. See photos from the trip here.