Famed songwriter John Prine had a big year in 2018. In addition to releasing his first original album in 13 years, The Tree of Forgiveness, he was nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as well as the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He even earned a handful of Grammy nods for his new LP, including a nod for nomination in the “Best Americana Album” category and two separate nominations in the “Best Americana Roots Song” for “Knockin’ On My Screen Door” and “Summer’s End”.
Prine also made several beautiful music videos for his new The Tree of Forgiveness material, including a desolate but beautiful clip for “Summer’s End” directed by Kerrin Sheldon and Elaine McMillion Sheldon, makers of the Oscar-nominated documentary, Heroin(e), and an additional documentary, Recovery Boys, both of which examine the effects of the opioid crisis in Appalachia. In a newly released behind-the-scenes interview with the “Summer’s End” video directors, they explain how John Prine recruited them to make this video because he wanted to make his own statement about the ongoing addiction crisis that’s “tearing families apart.”
In the “making of” clip, the filmmakers explain that while they had never before made a music video, they jumped at the chance to work with “a legend like John Prine.” Considering their first-hand experience with the crisis in the region, the Sheldon’s felt strongly about focusing the “Summer’s End” video on Appalachia, but were excited to tackle a different aspect of its widespread fallout.
As Elaine notes in the video, “As documentarians, we’re often documenting the harsh realities, but also trying to find the resilience and hope. One thing we weren’t able to capture with our two films was what’s happening with children, and luckily, John’s idea was to see this crisis and this issue through a child’s eyes.” Adds Kerrin, “The video centers around a young girl and her grandpa, both who are dealing with the same loss. For the young girl, it’s the loss of her mother, and for her grandpa, it’s the loss of a daughter.”
After shooting some footage of Prine performing the song in various spots around Nashville, they took the production back to West Virginia to capture the contrast between the area’s natural beauty and the devastation it’s being dealt by the epidemic of opioid addiction. They go on to explain how they used their own real-life experiences—and their own real-life families—to bring the idea to life. As Elaine explains, “I think, for many John Prine fans, us included, the opioid crisis is in our back yard. … John’s recognition of this issue means something to a lot of his fans, and is a huge testament to who he is as an artist.”
Below, you can watch the making of clip below, as well as the full “Summer’s End” video.
Making of “Summer’s End”
[Video: John Prine]
John Prine – “Summer’s End” [Official Video]
[Video: John Prine]
For more information about John Prine’s upcoming performances and more, head to his website here.
[H/T Rolling Stone]