Sturgill Simpson Cutting John Prine’s ‘Paradise’ Has Deeper Meaning

Sturgill Simpson in conjunction with Oh Boy Records has released a rendition of the classic John Prine song “Paradise.” The song will appear on the John Prine tribute album Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows Vol. 2 that is set for release on October 8th that folks can be on the lookout for, but there is a deeper story behind how the track came about.

John Prine and Sturgill Simpson were good friends near the end of Prine’s life, and they shared an office space in Nashville at the famed recording studio The Butcher Shoppe, which was the primary haunt for producer David “Ferg” Ferguson, and where many cool records were cut, including Sturgill’s first bluegrass record, and Purgatory by Tyler Childers. It’s also where the jukebox that Steve Goodman gave to Prine as payment for co-writing the song “You Never Even Called My By My Name” was kept for years as covered in Episode 2 of Country History X.

Sturgill Simpson’s version of “Paradise” holds the distinction of being the very last song cut at The Butcher Shoppe before its demolition—fitting for a song about memories being “hauled away.” Since Sturgill was in the studio with a bluegrass band at the time (a.k.a The Hillbilly Avengers) recording Cuttin Grass Vol. 1, the song was rendered in a bluegrass style with Stuart Duncan, Mike Bub, Sierra Hull, Scott Vestal, Tim O’Brien and Mark Howard.

Of course, Sturgill Simpson is from Kentucky, and has seen the destruction wrought by both the coal mining companies moving in, and then them moving out due to the decline in the industry. He’s written and talked about it throughout his career. John Prine is not from Kentucky, but his family was originally from Muhlenberg County, which is referenced in “Paradise.” Prine would visit Kentucky most summers when growing up.

Sturgill Simpson and John Prine shared a close kinship—so close in fact that John Prine left Sturgill a 2008 Porsche 911 when he died. Prine never drove the car, and couldn’t even get in it. But he always wanted to own one, so he bought it.

A version of John Prine’s final recorded song “I Remember Everything” has also been released from the upcoming tribute, with plans to release a new song from a new artist each month leading up to the October 8th release. Proceeds from the album will benefit UNICEF USA’s Covid-19 Relief Fund.

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