A Letter For John Prine

Hello in there,

As the year drags on, I can’t help but think about the absence created by the loss of John Prine. Reflecting on his life — what you could know of it from his music and as an appreciator of his art — I can’t help but shed a tear thinking about his first few and very last song(s); a feat that gets me to imagine the deep ocean of experiences that spanned between them, with all its shifting tides brought on by years of living.

Wordsmiths, I believe, are few and far between nowadays, not to say that there aren’t any at all. But I have always found comfort from artists of the past — Waylon & Willie, Townes Van Zandt, Tom T. Hall, Merle Haggard, Bruce Springsteen, Bobbie Gentry, etc, etc … The likes of which have shaped the silent rebel I have come to be; unwavering and uncompromising in my journey to deeply appreciate and engage my life as one worth living.

Among all my heroes dead and alive, those who have caught my ear in moments of depression and reprieve, John was one who spoke to me on an intrinsic and basic wavelength. His words still do, though now tinged with a film of sadness from his recent passing.

Looking back, and with a recent investment in a Stoic’s life philosophy, I realize now that John’s music embodies all the good things one wants to practice in life — understanding your capital “N” Nature; living with a sense of dignity and humor; understanding the value of virtue (the Ancient Greek definition); and a salient commitment to stay steadfast despite life’s unpredictability.

The poetic irony of John’s work reveal the great multiplicities of this world and the worlds we create within ourselves. He did not shy away from the unseemly, instead he included it alongside the good (“rainbows and ridges” so to speak) to paint a beautiful, happenstance landscape (Bob Ross approved).

I am sad to know I will never get to see John live. Even sadder still, to think about the cause of death and how it has revealed a vulnerability in so many confused or scared souls. In a sense, knowing John was out there quelled a lot of my frustrations with humanity, because just like his songs, he reminded me that life’s complexities reflect on a surface like broken glass bursting with fragments of light. It’s never as simple as it seems.

To his family and friends, fellow John Prine appreciators, this is just another token of appreciation, humbly given, for John and the gifts he gave us with his music.

The Singing Mailman Delivered.

A poem written last year by yours truly after John Prine’s death.

Words: Patti Sanchez

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