John Prine Interview on Songwriting and Life

What can I say about John Prine that hasn’t been said? He was like a grandpa to me—and every other songwriter. His songs were magical and his character was impeccable. He’ll be sorely missed, but never forgotten.

Below is an entertaining and enlightening 90-minute interview Prine did with CBS promoting his final masterpiece, The Tree of Forgiveness. There are loads of gems on the songwriting process, like this one on the initial spark that inspires him to write (around 19:10):

INTERVIEWER: The reason I was interested in the broken radio [Ed: John’s song “Broken Radio” was inspired in part by a Zenith radio his dad used to listen to the local country stations on when John was growing up] is—sometimes when I hear you describe your songs, you’ll grab one of those beautiful specific images. It feels like sometimes the image is the thing around which the pearl of the song is built. Is that the way it goes?

JOHN PRINE: It is, yeah. Because it takes something like one strong image to pull the rest of it out—from there on in, it’s more of a craft. But you gotta have that one burning coal to keep looking at, or keep coming up in the song. That’s what draws the other stuff out.

A burning coal! What a perfect way to describe an image compelling enough to inspire a song. He was the best—and this interview is a masterclass. Take a look below.

Watch the full John Prine interview here: