A Few Moments with John Prine & Sturgill Simpson at “The Speed of The Sound of Loneliness”

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 21: Singer/songwriters Sturgill Simpson and John Prine perform at Up Close and Personal: John Prine & Sturgill Simpson at The GRAMMY Museum on June 21, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/WireImage)

A film of the two friends rehearsing at the Grammy Museum, 2016.

John Prine and Sturgill Simpson, reheasing at Grammy Museum backstage, 2016.
Video by Paul Zollo/American Songwriter.

Back in June of 2016, I had the honor of hosting a night at the Grammy Museum in downtown L.A. with John Prine and Sturgill Simpson together. It was John’s idea to have Sturgill be a part of the night, as he simply didn’t want the spotlight only on him. He was a humble guy that way, not your typical performer.

Sturgill, like most songwriters, has great reverence and love for Prine, and said to me, quietly, when John was not around, “Hey, let’s make it his night, okay? Don’t spend too much time on me.”

They decided to do this song together, “The Speed of the Sound of Loneliness,” one of many later masterpieces in Prine’s career. They rehearsed it in the green room, upstairs from the theater, where I shot this little movie.

John & Sturgill, 2016

This is one of so many songs by John Prine which were beautiful when they first emerged – uniquely him, unexpected, sad, genuine, pure Prine – and yet which suits this time we’re in better than any others. Only Prine would sing of loneliness this way.

Now with John gone at this toughest of tough times comes the news of Sturgill testing positive for the virus after a long fight simply to be tested, what was already poignant has grown even more so. For all living at the speed of the sound of loneliness now, you’re not alone. Stay strong and healthy.

The Speed of the Sound of Loneliness
By John Prine

You come home late and you come home early
You come on big when you’re feeling small
You come home straight and you come home curly
Sometimes you don’t come home at all

So what in the world’s come over you
And what in heaven’s name have you done
You’ve broken the speed of the sound of loneliness
You’re out there running just to be on the run


Well I got a heart that burns with a fever
And I got a worried and a jealous mind
How can a love that’ll last forever
Get left so far behind?

It’s crossed the evil line today
Well, how can you ask about tomorrow
We ain’t got one word to say
You’re out there running just to be on the run



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