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Inside The 50th Annual Songwriters Hall Of Fame with John Prine and more

on June 14, 2019 No comments
By Robert Dye

At the 50th annual Songwriters Hall of Fame induction ceremony last night, two of its newest honorees, John Prine and Justin Timberlake, both of different generations, described the common bond that drives songwriters to write, and the emotional satisfaction that overcomes them when a song is finished.

Prine, the legendary folk singer whom presenter and long-time friend Bonnie Raitt called “our own Mark Twain, our Woody, our Will Rogers,” succinctly stated “I gotta say, there’s no better feeling than having a killer song in your pocket and you’re the only one in the world who’s heard it.”

Bonnie Raitt congratulates John Prine just before inducting him into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame

The multi-talented Timberlake discussed how important it is to create music with other co-writers who share the same hard-work ethic needed in finishing a song, no matter how difficult the task may be.  “You’re doing therapy with somebody you just met. If you did that on the subway they would say ‘that bitch is crazy!’ he joked. “There’s always that one line in the song where you’re like ‘if we could just get that one line that leads into the chorus.’ You bond over that shared level of tenacity. And then every time you hear that song later on, you get to remember the moment you had that breakthrough. When people hear it for the first time, they just hear it. But you get to go back and have all those memories.”

Inductee John Prine poses backstage during the Songwriters Hall Of Fame 50th Annual Induction And Awards Dinner at The New York Marriott Marquis on June 13, 2019 in New York City. © Larry Busacca /Getty Images for Songwriters Hall Of Fame
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Before Bonnie Raitt inducted John Prine, she acknowledged the band that was backing all the performers during the night and then started into Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery.” That song originally appeared on Prine’s 1971 eponymous debut album before Raitt released her own version on her Streetlights album in 1974 and has since become a staple of her catalog. “On behalf of all of us who sing your songs,” she said, “thank you.”

Bonnie Raitt praised Prine’s keen knack for profound reflections on what might seem mundane to others. “The best songwriters and poets can get you to see something that may have been right there in front of you the whole time and you just never noticed. John can fit so much meaning and insight into such deceptively simple lines and leave a heart-wrenching moment of hilarity, empathy or hard fought truth into such beautiful stories and characters, then wrap them all up in melodies as comfortable as slipping into your favorite pair of jeans. What a gift!”

“I always dug the lyrics to songs,” Prine said. “I used to buy Country Song Roundup and Hit Parader and I’d see all the songwriter’s names and publishers and it was such a thrill for me. When I first started learning other people’s song I had trouble learning their lyrics, or remembering them. So I started making my own lyrics up. And bang! That was my beginning as a songwriter.”

“I love songwriting,” he continued. “I love to paint myself into a corner and have to rhyme my way out of it. And when I co-write I always try to pick out a really good restaurant, so if things ain’t happening in the first 30 minutes, just go: ‘Hey man, let’s go get some lunch.’”

Source: © Copyright American Songwriter
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This is my friend Dick Waterman; we met at Mariposa in 1965 — I was hosting a blues workshop and he was managing the legendary blues singer Son House; he also worked with so many great blues folk, from Fred McDowell to Skip James, to Bonnie Raitt and Buddy Guy. In the pioneer days of blues internet groups, he was Richard the Younger and I was Richard the Elder (since I was a year older than he). Today's his 85th birthday — send him and his smashing wife Cinda greetings to their home in Oxford, Mississippi (jinxblues@aol.com) and tell him I sent you! ... See MoreSee Less

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On the eve of John’s 74th birthday, I’m scrolling through precious memories of our many years together. Still so hard to believe I’ll never get to look across at him singing Angel with me again.

One of my favorite memories is of a night way back in '73, when a gang of us gathered back at the motel after a day hanging out at each others’ shows at the Philly Folk Festival.
We grabbed our instruments and some libations and met back up at Stevie Goodman’s room-- John, me, Al Bunetta, Freebo, David Bromberg, John Hartford, and a slew of others, too many to mention. Soon we were sprawled over both beds, chairs, every corner of the room. Stevie, John and I were facing each other across the two beds and Stevie started playing and we all joined in. What followed was the most extraordinary night of music—Stevie, the pied piper, seemed to know an endless stream of folk songs, Beatles, Everly Brothers, old rock and roll—all the verses and intricate chords too. We swapped leads and harmonies and there may have been a mandolin and some harmonica. It was a magical night and we all felt it.

I can still see Stevie's irrepressible grin and John beaming back at him. The love they shared for each other was as true and deep as any I've witnessed.
There was so much joy and love in that room, I'll never forget it.

When the dawn's light finally crept under the motel curtains, we dragged ourselves up and straggled back down the halls, spent but still buzzed and grinning, passing the Festival goers on their way to the breakfast buffet.

Remembering this special night, I celebrate John on his birthday today. And I picture him reunited with his beloved Stevie and Al--arms wrapped around each other, grinning ear to ear, enjoying every bit of what he hoped he'd find when he finally got to Heaven.

Happy Birthday, my dear pal. I miss you so much. You’re here in my heart and I'll be singing Angel for you every time. You give me one thing, that I can hold on to. ...
To believe in this livin'.

To John, Fiona and the boys, I send
all my love,

Bonnie

#IRememberEverything
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From BRHQ -- Tomorrow night, Oct 7th 7:30pm-9:00pm ET (right BEFORE the VP debate) Watch Bonnie perform on the Concert Across America to End Gun Violence!
Join Melissa Etheridge, John Fogerty, Wynton Marsalis, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne and more for the 2020 Concert Across America to End Gun Violence. Streaming here on Facebook: fb.me/e/1BHKSGvl2
For the full list of performers and to make donations click here: tinyurl.com/Concert-Performers

Then please watch the VP debate. And most importantly, VOTE.
Also check out our Celebrity Auction. Bid on one-of-a-kind experiences like some hang time with Jason Alexander, your own fitness session with celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels, or a some custom Nikes. Bid here: tinyurl.com/CAA-Auction
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