After the massive success of 2018’s Tree of Forgiveness and the tour behind it, John Prine started a new album. The first song he recorded was “I Remember Everything,” a gorgeous ballad where he looks back at snapshots from his life — both onstage and with his family — while trying to stay grounded in the present: “Got no future in my happiness/Though regrets are very few,” he sings. “Sometimes a little tenderness/Is the best that I could do.”
The song, produced by Dave Cobb, couldn’t be a better goodbye from Prine, who died in April from complications from COVID-19. With a loping melody and shades of “My Way,” Prine showcases his gift of making small details fully significant, from an out-of-tune guitar to blades of grass. It all adds up to a content look back on his life. When I was lucky enough to interview him, Prine talked about finding “parallel emotions,” putting a series of disconnected subjects together to convey a bigger idea — “Lake Marie” is an example. Here, Prine looks back on life not as a series of achievements or milestones — he remembers swimming pools of butterflies “that slipped right through the net,” and catching a glimpse of his lover in the morning light.