It’s funny how some things change your life.
Last fall, we heard a song on the radio. Its lyrics brought a tear to our eye.
We didn’t think much of it as we told Mrs. Manward we’d like to sing it with her at a grand ol’ party we’re hosting in May (assuming such things are ever allowed to happen again).
But she must have thought more of it.
On Christmas morning, there was a guitar under the tree. Tied to it were the lyrics of that song.
The gift brought another tear to our eye.
We’ve been practicing every night. We enjoy the getaway.
We’re getting better too. But May is coming quickly… too quickly.
But we got bad news yesterday.
The fella who penned that song just died. He’s one of the 72 coronavirus deaths in Tennessee.
We don’t normally write about music in this column – not with so much to muse about these days in the world of money, health and freedom. But John Prine, from all we can tell, was a great man… the Mark Twain of music, we’re told.
It takes us to a vital idea that ties directly to our mission. Our Triad is alive in John’s music.
That’s what many say made his work so different. It reflected a life where people mattered, freedom was important and hard work was something to be admired.
There are no yachts and private jets in his tunes… just words that reflect the sharp corners and muddy ruts of life.
Sometimes that’s all we need.
Take Bill Murray, for instance. The comedian once recorded a video for Mr. Prine. In it, he details how listening to one of the artist’s albums brought him out of a long-term “bummer” and set him on a healthier path.
“I heard this song,” he said of “Linda Goes to Mars,” “and that was the beginning of the return.”
It’s a good lesson for these days.
The nation’s misery index is at an all-time high.
The news is dire, our Liberty is at risk, we’re locked in our homes… and the future seems to look a lot different from the past.
It’s no fun.
And it’s no good.
But we can take a few lessons from Mr. Prine and his down-home wisdom.
Songs About Life
First, have a little fun.
After all, it’s Prine’s words that he penned in his catchy tune “In Spite of Ourselves” that has us strumming the guitar each night. They’re a perfect reminder that it’s often ourselves – not the man next door – who create the most trouble in our lives.
In spite of ourselves we’ll end up a-sittin’ on a rainbow
Against all odds, honey we’re the big door prize
We’re gonna spite our noses right off of our faces
There won’t be nothin’ but big ol’ hearts dancin’ in our eyes.
Learning to play that tune has reminded us why we’re so passionate about the idea of Know-How. Learning a new skill or a fresh art can take the mind to wonderful, new places.
But we think it’s Prine’s mastery of Connections that makes his work such a grand fit for this column.
His tune “Hello in There” is one of his most renowned. Even for the folks who’ve never heard it before… the words will sound familiar.
We’ll link to the full lyrics here, but below are our favorite lines from the oh-so-slow tune:
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.”
It’s a popular refrain these days. In world where we’re not allowed to hold the hand of the old or the sick… we’re not allowed to sit in the pew with our family… and we can’t go within 6 feet of our old pals, we’re all in need of somebody to simply say, “Hello in there, hello.”
So that’s our idea for this Thursday morn.
Money can wait. We can muse about our Liberty some other day.
It’s important to remember we’re about so much more.
Put a song on the radio, practice a new skill or just call up an old pal.
We lost a good man this week. But we’ll never lose the words he gave us.
And another tear comes to our eye.
Hello in there…