How John Prine’s Final Album Revitalized His Career
John Prine had a long and exceptionally distinguished career, and he went out on a high note. Prine's final album, The Tree of Forgiveness, was an award-winning project that gave him the highest chart positions of his entire career.
The Tree of Forgiveness marked Prine's first album of his own new songs since 2005's Fair and Square, and he collaborated with some top songwriting talent on the songs, including Pat McLaughlin, Dan Auerbach, Keith Sykes and Phil Spector. The tracks were also peppered with guest appearances from Jason Isbell, Amanda Shires and Brandi Carlile, all of whom counted him as an influence, and Prine enlisted producer Dave Cobb to helm the album, which he recorded at RCA Studio A in Nashville.
Released on April 13, 2018, The Tree of Forgiveness was a commercial success, debuting at No. 1 on Billboard's U.S. Folk Albums chart and No. 2 on the Top Country Albums, Independent Albums and Top Rock Albums charts. The project also reached No. 5 on the all-genre Billboard 200, marking the highest chart positions Prine had ever earned across his decades-long career.
The Tree of Forgiveness went on to sell more than 150,000 copies, and it earned praise from critics, with Rolling Stone calling the album " very good, frequently brilliant, with all the qualities that define Prine’s music." Pitchfork called the album "wise and economical," while NPR, the New Yorker, the New York Times and more weighed in with accolades.
The Tree of Forgiveness earned Prine three Grammy nominations — one for Best Americana Album, and two for Best American Roots Song for both "Summer's End" and "Knockin' on Your Screen Door." He received Album of the Year from the Americana Music Honors & Awards, which also gave him Song of the Year for "Summer's End." Prine finished off his career in a place of rare honor, having become one of the elder statesmen of the Americana movement and one of the main inspirations for some of today's most important singer-songwriters.
Prine died at the age of 73 on Tuesday (April 7) from complications from the coronavirus (COVID-19), leaving behind an irreplaceable musical legacy. Country artists were among the many who turned to social media to mourn his passing and share tributes.
John Prine's Secret Hits:
Country Artists Grieve for John Prine: