John Prine Covers John Anderson’s ‘1959’ in One of Final Recording Sessions: ‘A Great Artist and a Great Spirit’

by Jim Casey

It’s been more than two years since the late, great John Prine, 73, died on April 7, 2020, from complications of COVID-19. However, hearing Prine’s voice on a newly released song is like hearing from an old friend. And that’s just what you’ll get with the release of Something Borrowed, Something New: A Tribute to John Anderson on Aug. 5. The 13-song tribute album opens with one of the last songs Prine recorded before his death, a cover of Anderson’s “1959.”

After a sneak “listen” of the album, Prine’s cover is everything you’d expect from the gravelly voiced luminary. While the song is sorrowful in nature, hearing Prine’s doleful delivery is nothing short of celebratory.

Prine gave country music (or folk, or roots, or Americana, or whatever genre you want to call it) a lot of happiness during his lifetime with songs like “Sam Stone,” “Paradise,” “Mexican Home,” and “Pretty Good,” among others. Of course, Prine also penned/co-penned George Strait’s “I Just Want to Dance With You,” Bonnie Raitt’s “Angel From Montgomery,” David Allan Coe’s “You Never Even Called Me By My Name,” and Don Williams’ “Love Is On a Roll.”

From ‘1959’ to Now

Anderson’s upcoming tribute album was produced by Dan Auerbach and David Ferguson—the same duo who helmed his 2020 album, Years. The tribute album, which was recorded at Auerbach’s Nashville studio, also features covers by Eric Church, Luke Combs, Tyler Childers, Sierra Ferrell, Brent Cobb, Brothers Osborne, and more.

“[John Prine] immediately said yes when we asked, and we set it up for the next week,” said Dan Auerbach in the album notes. “He loved John Anderson. It just felt like an amazing way to open the record because it’s so plaintive at the very beginning. The whole idea of a tribute is about looking back and appreciating. And to hear John Prine sing ‘Baby I’m yours / I’ll love you always / I’m gonna stand by you until the end of time’ felt like a really nice way of saying goodbye to our buddy.”

Anderson recorded “1959” for his self-titled debut album in 1980. The single climbed to No. 7 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, becoming Anderson’s first Top 10 hit.

“I remember when [producers Dan and David] mentioned John Prine, I said, ‘I need to come by there and get a picture of me and John.’ We go back a long way and I’ve always loved him, and I don’t think I have a picture. And I made a special trip to town that day. I didn’t want to bug him at the session, so before the music all started, I was gone, but I did get my picture. And I had a wonderful visit with John. I was blown away by his version of ‘1959.’ That was the last time I saw him. A great artist and a great spirit, John Prine.”

Something Borrowed, Something New: A Tribute to John Anderson will drop on Aug. 5.

‘A Tribute to John Anderson’ Track List

  1. “1959” – John Prine
  2. “Years” – Sierra Ferrell
  3. “Wild and Blue” – Brent Cobb
  4. “Low Dog Blues” – Nathaniel Rateliff
  5. “Mississippi Moon” – Eric Church
  6. “I Just Came Home to Count the Memories” – Gillian Welch & David Rawlings
  7. “Shoot Low Sheriff” – Tyler Childers
  8. “Seminole Wind” – Luke Combs
  9. “When It Comes to You” – Sturgill Simpson
  10. “You Can’t Judge A Book (By The Cover)” – Brothers Osborne
  11. “Would You Catch A Falling Star” Del McCoury feat. Sierra Hull
  12. “Straight Tequila Night” – Ashley McBryde
  13. “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I’m Gonna Be a Diamond Some Day)” – Jamey Johnson