Waters kicks off the cover by playing acoustic guitar and singing half of the first verse by himself. Lucius then takes over, narrating Prine’s story about a lonely couple whose children have grown up and become distant. The screen splits for the chorus, and they all sing the lyrics about old trees, rivers and people in harmony. The song originally appeared on Prine’s self-titled debut in 1971.
Waters has covered the song a few times in recent years, beginning with a performance at the Newport Folk Festival in 2015; he’s also covered the Prine song “Paradise.” The “Hello in There” clip that dropped today comes courtesy of a film about Newport, Our Voices Together. The 86-minute stream — which dropped in lieu of a physical fest — also featured performances by James Taylor, Tom Morello, Phoebe Bridgers, Courtney Barnett and many others. It was released as a fundraiser for the Newport Festivals Foundation, which has been giving money to musicians affected by the pandemic.
Prine died in early April of symptoms related to COVID-19. Waters told Rolling Stone in May that there are several Prine songs he’d like to cover. “I made a new version of [Prine’s] ‘Paradise,'” he said, “and I confess to thinking this morning, ‘I could definitely do “Hello in There,”‘ and, ‘I wonder what key “Sam Stone” is in?’ And I desperately want to do ‘Donald and Lydia.’ Imagine the joy, even for myself, of recording those songs and allowing part of my life to be living through that experience.”