Luke Combs Agrees on Saving Country Music’s 2022 Song of the Year
The Saving Country Music Song of the Year winner always turns out to be one of the most controversial picks for end-of-year awards. No, it’s not usually because there isn’t a consensus behind the song being something spectacular. After all, the opinions of readers of Saving Country Music also weigh heavily into the decision. It’s because when it comes to Song of the Year, genre is placed secondary to the emotional impact the song delivers, and sometimes this confuses or frustrates people.
The 2022 Song of the Year was no different. With a poetic grace that doesn’t need a famous name to be compelling, John Prine’s son Tommy Prine exquisitely encapsulated how all the happiness and grace in life—however enjoyable—is invariably fleeting. From the warmth of seeing a bluebird perched on a fence, to the unconditional love of a father, eventually it will go away due to the rhythms of life. As much as Prine’s “Ships in the Harbor” was a lament on inevitability, it’s also a lesson to enjoy the sweet moments of life while we’re in the midst of them.
But some didn’t think the song was country enough, or perhaps compelling enough for them. That’s fine, these things are inherently subjective. But one person who apparently did concur was the reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year, and one of the most popular artists in all of country music at the moment.
While on the Red Carper at the 2023 Grammy Awards if February, someone from CBS shoved a microphone into the face of Luke Combs, and asked him “What song can you not stop listening to?” Luke’s answer?
“John Prine’s son, Tommy Prine, wrote a song when his dad passed called ‘Ships in the Harbor,’ and I just can not stop listening to that song. It’s so amazing. Wonderful song.”
We shouldn’t be so entirely shocked that Luke Combs has Tommy Prine and “Ships in the Harbor” on his radar. Sure, the song has just barely cracked 300,000 spins on Spotify, and was the young man’s debut single, so it’s not like it’s a viral hit or something. But we know from past behavior that Luke Combs—even as the CMA Entertainer of the Year—is paying attention to what is happening in the independent country world too.
Not only has Combs collaborated with Billy Strings in the past, touted 49 Winchester and other up-and-coming artists and bands, he once even shouted out The Wilder Blue, and Combs said that he discovered them right here on Saving Country Music. He’s also taking Brent Cobb, Lainey Wilson, and Flatland Cavalry out with him on tour.
Did Luke find Tommy Prine an “Ships in the Harbor” on SCM too? That’s undetermined at this point. But undoubtedly, he’s paying attention to the good stuff out there. And whether inadvertently or purposefully, he concurs about Saving Country Music’s 2022 Song of the Year, or at least that it’s a great song.
Luke Combs releases his new album Gettin’ Old on March 24th. We’re still waiting on the announcement about Tommy Prine’s debut album, but it’s expected in 2023. Prine is also playing a residency a Tuesday night residency at The Basement in Nashville this month, and was just announced on the lineup of The Long Road Festival in the UK in August.
March 1, 2023 @ 12:58 pm
Do we know when Tommy might release a full album? I watched a three song performance that’s on youtube, and all three songs (Ships was one) were great.
March 1, 2023 @ 1:21 pm
They’re saying in 2023, but no release date just yet. I’ve been wondering if when “Ships in the Harbor” was so well received, they said, “Wow. We may really have something on our hands here with Tommy. Let’s take the time to make sure the debut album lives up to the expectations.” They released his second single “Turning Stones” in October, and was expecting an album announcement in late 2022.
March 1, 2023 @ 4:14 pm
That is by far the Best Song of the Year ! Absolutely perfect. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree !
March 1, 2023 @ 1:38 pm
He’s bringing 49 winchester as his opener on the European leg of his world tour too. Pretty friggin epic for the best band doing it right now.
March 1, 2023 @ 1:58 pm
I am willing to bet that song hasn’t been played more than 5 times since it was voted number one by those saying it was number 1. Honestly, none of the choices were any good.
March 1, 2023 @ 2:16 pm
I wouldn’t disagree with that assessment. “Ships In The Harbor” is not one of those songs you listen to over and over. You listen once, are floored by it, perhaps listen to it again right after, and then don’t listen to it perhaps for months until something reminds you of it. That’s just the nature of the song. It’s not a “jam.”
Interestingly though, the question to Luke Combs was not “What is your favorite song?” It was “What song can you not stop listening to?”
March 1, 2023 @ 2:30 pm
When I first heard Tom Waits – Small Change, I went nuts and listened to it over and over. I dove deeper and really fell in love with all his early records. I discovered Lucero with their “Live in Atlanta” record. It had the same effect. Maybe I need my pain soaked in whiskey and cigarettes, don’t know.
March 2, 2023 @ 6:28 am
Lucero is cool. I discovered them when they opened for Jason Isbell
March 1, 2023 @ 8:52 pm
Song of the year but you only want to listen to it twice. Interesting concept.
I get that it was an emotionally laid bare, culturally significant moment, but the SONG itself didn’t musically do it for me, and I too didn’t need to hear it again. Kind of a deal breaker.
March 2, 2023 @ 9:10 am
Strange take considering music is supposed to be listened to repeatedly. That is like awarding a book that people only want to read once “Novel of the Year.”
March 2, 2023 @ 9:46 am
Go read John and Hunterman6’s comments below. “Ships in the Harbor” accomplishes in one listen what most songs can’t accomplish in 1,000. That’s how you know you’ve got a great song. At the end, it’s all been said.
March 1, 2023 @ 2:49 pm
This May, it will be 25y since my father’s sudden death. Our time together ended up just a small slice of my time on earth. Sadly I didn’t know this while he was alive.
The song lands a direct hit, but it is comforting. It was all part of the plan for him to leave soon.
March 1, 2023 @ 3:36 pm
I haven’t listened to all of Combs stuff. I do like “When It Rains, It Pours”. Even more, I like him championing Prine, Flatand, all his openers.
March 2, 2023 @ 6:27 am
I just wish Luke Combs music wasn’t the wafting smell of nutsack and buttcheeks peeled from a faux leather couch in mid-summer Georgia.
March 2, 2023 @ 6:52 am
Much respect because Luke could have said anything and didn’t choose to prop up an artist on his record label or the next big thing the machine is pushing. He answered from his heart and validated what a fantastic choice that song was for SCM. Cool to see these big artists embracing “our” artists – like Brent Cobb going out with Luke. For me, seeing Eric Church bring Red Clay Strays on for some of his dates after I saw them playing Sturgill and Cash covers way back in 2018 and feeling like I got struck by lightening is pretty damn cool as well. Here’s hoping these types of recognition for off the radar artists gives them a healthy boost in their careers.
March 2, 2023 @ 7:50 am
First time listening to it. 2:45 mark came around and I was NOT ready. What a beautiful song. That settles it, taking the boys fishing this weekend with my old man.
March 2, 2023 @ 9:25 am
For some reason I had yet to listen to Tommy’s Prine’s song of the year. Holy crap that last verse hits so hard.
“I’d do anything just to talk to my father
But I guess he was leaving soon, as we do
Yeah, I guess he was passing through, and I am too”
March 2, 2023 @ 1:58 pm
Happy 33rd birthday,Luke !!! You’re me favourite Country singer today !!!
David: The Duke of Everything
March 2, 2023 @ 3:45 pm
Ships in the harbor is my favorite song in probably the last decade, that’s how great a song I think it is and to be honest, I couldn’t really name a song before that I like more though I know there are better. It just got me in a certain way and not too many songs do that. Maybe it depends on where you are in life and maybe what you have lost far as how much you will like it. But I do listen to it over n over cause while it is a little on the heavy, there is a lighter side when you soak it all in. Maybe it’s because I’m one of those people that is always pondering the meaning of life and the life that has preceded me at that moment.
March 2, 2023 @ 5:05 pm
Lots will not know what I mean, but it reminds me of the first time I listened to Waylon’s “I Believe”. Very hard not to listen again.
March 12, 2023 @ 10:02 pm
Lots will not know what I mean, but it reminds me of the first time I listened to Waylon’s “I Believe”. Very hard not to listen again