The session begins as James launches straight into “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness” from Prine’s 1986 album German Afternoons. In a tattered straw hat and standing over the camera, James’ performance embodies the DIY spirit of “In My Room” the most so far. In between songs, James shares memories, anecdotes, and more about Prine and his music.
“One my favorite things about John’s songs is how funny they are,” James says. “It’s such an amazing thing that I don’t feel like many people in this world have mastered, other than John, is the ability to make a sad song so funny and a funny song so sad. How did he do it?”
After further discussing Prine’s influence on his guitar playing and songwriting, James goes into “Spanish Pipedream” from Prine’s eponymous 1971 debut album. Despite the melancholy nature of this session, James still can’t help wearing a smile as he sings lines loaded with Prine’s trademark wit.
Before starting the next song, James discussed the first time he shared the stage with Prine, when he and fellow My Morning Jacket guitarist Carl Broemel played “Paradise” together backstage. As a Kentucky native, James knew the song note for note and always admired the way Prine was able to capture the sentiment and emotion of coal country, despite being born in Chicago. On that tour, Prine would invite up James and Broemel to close the show with “Paradise” every night.
After “Paradise” and a few more reflections, James closed the session with “All The Best” from 1991’s The Missing Years. The bittersweet ballad, in the context of Prine’s passing, reads like a fond farewell to his fans, family, and friends that all miss him a great deal. “I wish you love, I wish you happiness/I guess I wish, you all the best.”
Watch Jim James pay tribute to John Prine in the latest installment of Rolling Stone‘s “In My Room” series.
Jim James – ‘In My Room’
James’ schedule is wide open until a gig set for May 15th at Colorado Symphony in Denver. Given AEG Presents‘ recent cancellation of all its concerts in Colorado through July, however, the fate of that event is highly uncertain. Head to James’ website for any new announcements.