After the tragic loss of beloved songwriting pioneer John Prine, due to COVID-19 complications in April 2020, Sturgill Simpson shares “Paradise”—his contribution to the forthcoming tribute record, Broken Hearts and Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine, Vol. 2, out October 8 on Oh Boy Records.
“For myself along with many others, he was a mentor,” says Simpson. “He was very giving with his time and wisdom, and we were all grateful to get to know him.”
As a coal country native, and apprentice of the late Prine, Simpson’s adaptation of “Paradise” feels natural. The 1971 track from Prine’s self-titled album details the devastating destruction of archaic Kentucky farmland due to strip mining. Weighing heavier on the sentiment is the fact that this song was the very last song recorded at The Butcher Shoppe in Nashville—the studio Prine founded with Grammy Award-winning producer and engineer David Ferguson—now closed in anticipation of demolition later this year. Sturgill co-produced his cover of “Paradise” with Ferguson in a similar vein to his recent bluegrass leanings as exhibited in Cuttin’ Grass Vol.1 & 2.
The studio was a meaningful place to Prine and Simpson, who shared a writing space in the building and recorded numerous times throughout their respective careers. Their friendship, however, transcended the workplace. According to an interview with Stephen Colbert, Simpson even inherited Prine’s 2008 Porsche 911 Turbo. The duo performed “Paradise” at the Grammy Museum in 2016.
Oh Boy Records will be releasing Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine, Vol. 2. this Fall. The first tribute volume was released in 2010, while Prine was still alive to listen to and see his impact on music. This forthcoming album will consist of contemporary artists, many of which were dear friends of John, performing John Prine covers.
The first single released was Brandi Carlile’s rendition of “I Remember Everything”, on March 17, just days after she performed the posthumously released song at the 63rd Grammy Awards. Proceeds from “I Remember Everything” benefit the Looking Out Foundation.
“We wanna continue to support his music, and then also the next generation of singer-songwriters,” says Jody Whelan, the oldest of Prine’s three sons who runs Oh Boy Records. “We’ve released a few great things over the last couple years, but we’ve got some more surprises coming.”
Stream Sturgill Simpson’s performance of “Paradise” by John Prine below. Proceeds will be donated to UNICEF USA’s COVID-19 Relief Fund. Pre-order Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine, Vol. 2 here.