Saying Goodbye to John Prine

I was introduced to John Prine through Iris DeMent (not personally). She was his opening act in a show at the Hult Center, and I so wanted to see her live that it didn’t matter I knew nothing about who she was touring with, and figured I could leave early if I didn’t care for his music.

Needless to say, he won me over.

His irreverence, turn of a phrase, and unique perspective had me either chuckling (Let’s Talk Dirty in Hawaiian) or choking up (Hello in There).

As I dove into his music catalog, trying to catch up with the rest of the world, I realized I became a fan at just the right time, when age and experience had deepened and textured his voice to a quality that I preferred. And it was lucky for me that he had no plans on stopping his work, putting in another 20 years of touring and songwriting before being taken away from us.

In those 20 years, I turned my dad into a mutual fan, went to at least a half dozen more live shows, with my parents now joining me, and generally been amazed at what a juggernaut Prine was despite multiple battles with cancer and increasing age. I was really hoping he would pull through his bout with COVID-19, just so I could hear the song he would inevitably write about the experience.

Rest in peace, John Prine. I’m glad I took a chance on you.

UPDATE: I ran across my stash of old concert ticket stubs, and found the one for Prine and DeMent at the Hult Center.

Ticket stub for John Prine and Iris DeMent show

More than fair

post-287413-0-28986100-1443376099Tuesday, October 27th — the Blu-ray release date of the newly restored My Fair Lady — is a big day for film lovers. The restoration and its long-awaited arrival on home video is significant in large part because the property was treated so casually, if not poorly, back in 2011, when the distributor put out a dated transfer that didn’t suit the film’s pedigree and raised the hackles of its many fans, myself included. When word came out over a year ago that a restoration was under way, overseen by Robert A. Harris, arguably the best film preservationist in the business who’s worked on restorations of Lawrence of Arabia and Spartacus, fans knew the film was finally getting the treatment it deserved and that a suitable edition for their collections would eventually be a reality.

My Fair Lady DVD editions.
The 1998 (L) and 2004 (R) DVD editions. I never bothered to buy the 2011 Blu-ray given its transfer.

As I anxiously await my Blu-ray copy to arrive in the mail, I can’t help but reflect on my experiences with the film, which began in the 7th grade thanks to my English teacher, Ms. Sandhu. After reading portions of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, Ms. Sandhu showed us the musical adaptation of the play, AKA My Fair Lady. While I didn’t become enamored with the movie at the time, I remember enjoying it, along the same lines as my enjoyment of The Sound of Music and other movie musicals I’d been exposed to. It wasn’t until Audrey Hepburn passed away in 1993 that I revisited the film, as part of my (admittedly posthumous) fascination with the actress that had me seeking out every movie she’d ever starred in. While My Fair Lady doesn’t rank as my favorite Hepburn title (that would be Roman Holiday), it’s certainly one of her best, has only improved with age, and belongs in any film enthusiast’s collection. In fact, the movie was the first DVD title I ever owned, purchased back in 1998 (17 years ago!) when the format was just starting to make headway. Because of this, the release is undoubtedly the most important one of the year for me personally, but, with its state-of-the-art restoration and presentation, probably the most important release of the year, period.

To find out more about the restoration and the painstaking effort required to bring it up to everyone’s high standards, read the exclusive Home Theater Forum interview by my friend and colleague Neil Middlemiss.