Listen to Bright Eyes’ cover of John Prine’s ‘Christmas In Prison’
The song was first recorded by Prine for his 1973 album ‘Sweet Revenge’. Prine, often referred to as one of the most influential songwriters of his generation, died in April 2020 from complications caused by COVID-19.
The atmospheric, country-tinged track sees Oberst’s echoey vocal accentuated by plaintive pedal steel guitar. “It was Christmas in prison / And the food was real good / We had turkeys and pistols / Carved out of wood,” he sings.
The song also includes an excerpt from ‘A John Prine Christmas’, a spoken word track recorded by Prine for his 1993 album of the same name that sees him reflecting on his memories of Christmases past.
Proceeds from the track will be donated to Prine’s charity, The Hello In There Foundation and its current beneficiaries, which include the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, Porters Call, the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans and Renewal House. In addition, a limited edition holiday ornament of Bright Eyes and John Prine is available to buy here.
Speaking about the track, Oberst has said: “It is strange to get a chance to share a track with a hero of mine who has passed on. Normally not something I would do. I don’t like holograms. But I have so much love and affection for John as a person and his music. He really changed my life on a lot of levels.”
“When I heard the sample of him talking about Christmas just put such a big smile on my face and I couldn’t help but want to share it with other people. A little Christmas gift to a stranger. It’s all about John and his beautiful song. But I am happy to sing in the choir. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone all around the world. I wish love and light this season to you and yours.”
Last month, Oberst announced a run of 2024 residencies in New York and Los Angeles, titled ‘Conor Oberst and Friends’. The shows will see him play a discography-spanning setlist along with surprise guests and a rotating backing band.
In other news, Bright Eyes recently released their Companions project, which saw the band reissue their back catalogue, accompanied by new recordings.
In June, the band made an appearance on The Late Late Show With James Corden to perform ‘Falling Out Of Love At This Volume’, which appeared on the companion record to ‘A Collection Of Songs Written And Recorded 1995-1997’.