When I get to heaven, I’m gonna shake God’s hand
Thank him for more blessings than one man can stand
Then I’m gonna get a guitar and start a rock-n-roll band
Check into a swell hotel, ain’t the afterlife grand?
A couple of months ago, I went to a concert at Club Passim. Cleverly titled “Under the Covers,” it featured a handful of brilliant artists whose names you really should know playing songs made famous by artists whose names you probably do.
Late in the show, Mark Erelli played a song called “Summer’s End,” by John Prine. And, as he was introducing it, Zack Hickman [you’ll want to click both links there] razzed him, noting that Mark had lost a songwriting competition to John over that song. “John Prine is a national treasure,” Zach said. “Nobody’s as good as John Prine. But not just anybody is officially not as good as John Prine.”
And then I’m gonna get a cocktail: vodka and ginger ale
Yeah, I’m gonna smoke a cigarette that’s nine miles long
I’m gonna kiss that pretty girl on the tilt-a-whirl
‘Cause this old man is goin’ to town
I first heard John’s music on a Pandora shuffle I’d put on the speakers in the coffee shop I worked in at Georgetown. I’d hear these clever lyrics while out front making drinks, and I’d duck back into the office to see who was singing. Sure enough, it was John Prine. Who else would sing, “She uses Eveready / batteries to keep her electrical appliances a-goin’ steady”? Or “Please don’t bury me / down in that cold cold ground / I’d rather have ’em cut me up / and pass me all around”?
Then as God as my witness, I’m gettin’ back into show business
I’m gonna open up a nightclub called The Tree of Forgiveness
And forgive everybody ever done me any harm
Well, I might even invite a few choice critics, those syph’litic parasitics
Buy ’em a pint of Smithwick’s, and smother ’em with my charm
John died Tuesday, and I expect that nightclub should be opening soon — just as soon as he’s put away a cocktail or two and enjoyed his first cigarette in decades. I don’t want to join him there anytime soon, but I’ll certainly miss him here.
Awwwwwwwwww, baby! We gotta go now.
PS: Speaking of Passim, you don’t have to die and get to heaven to catch a great show these days. The club is live-streaming a Keep Your Distance Fest on a pay-what-you-can basis, with revenues split between artists, the club, and the otherwise-out-of-work waitstaff (all artists themselves).
Plus, Josh Ritter is performing a Silo Sessions series live on YouTube at 8:00pm ET every Tuesday. All of his tours have great posters, and this one’s no exception. (A portion of proceeds also go to charity.)