A John Prine Memory, by Rich Paschall

John Prine (Photo Credit: Ron Baker)

When John Prine was growing up in Maywood, Illinois, a suburb along the west side of Chicago, he helped a friend with a newspaper route. “…and I delivered to a Baptist old peoples home where we’d have to go room-to-room.”  That experience stayed with him and inspired him to write the song “Hello In There.”  It appeared on his debut album in 1971.

Ya’ know that old trees just grow stronger
And old rivers grow wilder ev’ry day
Old people just grow lonesome
Waiting for someone to say, “Hello in there, hello”

John performed around Chicago at a number of clubs in the late 1960s. He was one of many singer-songwriters here in that era. His debut album was well received and he was nominated for a Grammy as Best New Artist in 1972. “I don’t think I’ve done a show without singing ‘Hello in There’,” John stated in the liner notes to ‘Great Days”, an anthology album put out in 1993.

So if you’re walking down the street sometime
And spot some hollow ancient eyes
Please don’t just pass ’em by and stare
As if you didn’t care, say, “Hello in there, hello”

John Prine died on April 7th. He had been stricken with COVID-19. He was 73. He won two Grammy Awards in his career and was also presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020. His song, “Hello In There” has been covered by numerous artists.

One of the artists to frequently sing John’s song was Joan Baez. If you have plenty of Kleenex handy, you may wish to see her tribute to John recorded from her kitchen when he was hospitalized. She had covered the song on her 1975 album, “Diamonds and Rust.”

“I like songs that are clean and don’t have much fat on them — every line is direct, and all people can relate to it. That’s what I try to do.” – John Prine

See Also: “The Music Of John Prine,” by Marilyn Armstrong, SERENDIPITY, April 8, 2020.
SOURCES: “Joan Baez Dedicates ‘Hello in There’ to John Prine,” by Angie Martoccio, rollingstone.com March 30, 2020.
John Prine Was The Master Of Lyrical Economy,” by Morgan Enos, Grammys, grammy.com April 8, 2020.
John Prine (album),” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, en.wikipedia.org
John Prine,” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, en.wikipedia.org


My sick tooth is gone. Presumably, this will also cure the abscess in the gum above the tooth. It was ironic because this tooth was in my gum as solid as a rock. Not even a wobble. The dentist cut it into pieces and took it out piece by piece, although I feel like I was also recently punched in the face. There was a lot of powerful tugging on that tooth. I could be in a better mood.

How long this will take to heal is anyone’s guess. A few days? A week? I’ve had teeth that healed pretty much overnight and a couple that took weeks. One shattered so badly I was pulling shards of tooth out of my gum for months afterwards. I did not go back to that dentist. I’m feeling very anti-dentist at the moment, but it will pass. He didn’t do anything wrong. It was just not very pleasant for me.

Meanwhile, my diet will be tepid everything. No straws, nothing crunchy, nothing chewy, all mush all the time. In THIS house, this means one of two meals: canned Chef-Boyardee beefaroni or mac and cheese. Everything else requires chewing. I have to wait until my Coke goes flat and warm before I can drink it. It’s the idea that counts.

So. If I’m not peppy and entertaining, it’s all about the tooth. This one didn’t shatter, so I’m hoping it’ll heal fast.

We have three red leaves on the maple tree right outside my front window. I’ll try to take a pictures of it and take subsequent pictures as it changes color. It’s our only full-sized maple tree. The other trees that change color are the sassafras — they turn gold — and our Japanese Maple which turns a brilliant scarlet, but not until November. Otherwise, it’s all oak trees. They change to bronze and hold onto their leaves sometimes through the winter, depending on the weather. They are beautiful reflected in the rivers, but not very interesting from the back deck. They won’t even begin to change until late October although the lack of rain may change that. It’s hard to tell. I’m still hoping for unexpected rain. None is expected, but that doesn’t mean we won’t get some anyway.

I need a good autumn this year. It has been an awful year. A good autumn could really help!