With more than two million confirmed cases and over 150,000 dead, the COVID-19 coronavirus has affected everyone in one way or another. For Kacey Musgraves, the “Space Cowboy” singer lost someone near and dear to her heart – the legendary musician, John Prine. However, she refused to lose faith in a better tomorrow, especially since millions have adopted the rainbow as a symbol of hope during this time. During her appearance at One World: Together At Home on Apr. 18, Kacey, 31, gave thanks to all the healthcare workers before performing a heartfelt rendition of her song, “Rainbow.”
The pandemic hit close to home for Kacey on Apr. 7, when the 73-year-old John Prine passed away due to complications from COVID-19. He was a significant influence on many people across a broad spectrum of genres — including Kacey. “John Prine singlehandedly impacted my songwriting more than anyone else. He’s the king of turning phrase but keeping it simple,” she told PEOPLE. “They say you shouldn’t meet your heroes, but you’ll never meet someone as truly genuine as he was.”
She first connected with John during the 2015 Cayamo: A Journey Through Song cruise, and they duetted on his songs “Illegal Smile” and “Paradise.” They reunited again in 2017 at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. John was also an inspiration for one of her early songs, “Burn One with John Prine,” a celebration of the singer and smoking cannabis. “This little girl comes up to me with her buddy…. They wanted to take me out in the parking lot and get me high. I said, ‘Uh, gee, thanks, but… no, thanks,'” Prine said during his annual Christmas Party in 2015, per Rolling Stone. “We had our picture taken together, and the next thing I know, I’m over at my record company, Oh Boy Records, and I hear this tape. It’s Kacey singing this song about how she’d like to burn one with John Prine.”
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“I can’t figure out what I like so much about that song,” John joked in 2015, before joining in with Kacey to sing her song about him. For those who haven’t heard, the track’s chorus declares that her “idea of heaven is to burn one with John Prine.” John, oddly enough, would talk about smoking a cigarette that’s “9 miles long” in his song, “When I Get To Heaven.”
John passed away at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, after being hospitalized with a “sudden onset” of COVID-19 symptoms. On Mar. 28, he was intubated, with pneumonia in both his lungs. Despite the prayers that he would recover, the disease was too much. Since John’s passing, stars like Eric Church, Roger Waters, Elvis Costello, Jeff Tweedy, Ashley McBryde, Jim James, Brandi Carlile, and Bruce Springsteen have all paid tribute to him.