How Hunter S. Thompson and John Prine helped Bill Murray fight depression
If Dr Hunter S. Thomspon, the legendary Gonzo journalist and the anarchic novelist, offers you advice then you had better take it. Bill Murray went to the good doctor after struggling with his mental health and Thompson’s advice to check out the singer John Prine who helped pull him out of his depression.
The iconic writer, Thompson, only deals in truth and his advice could prove valuable to anyone—especially when figuring out how to sedate a full-grown elephant or blow up a small town. But you still maybe wouldn’t expect him to offer up many notions on how best to pull yourself from a bout of depression. In this footage, Bill Murray shares that advice and the song which helped him find his humour again.
The video which was shot in support of Prine’s first album in years, The Tree of Forgiveness, sees Murray detail Hunter’s advice and the track of Prine’s which finally got him to change his mood. Murray suggests in the video that following an episode of he describes as “not clinical depression” but more being a “real bummer to be around” that Thompson offered him some sage advice.
The advice is delivered to us via Murray and a pretty impeccable impression of Thompson. With his persona, Murray embodies the writer to say that he should go to John Prine and the musician’s melancholy sense of humour for comic relief. The Fear and Loathing Las Vegas writer pointed toward Prine’s seminal record Great Days as a way out—a dangerous move considering the double greatest hits album is widely considered one of the saddest records of all time.
Featuring tracks like ‘Hello in There’ and ‘Sam Stone’ plus many other tearjerkers in the mammoth release, it was by chance luck or divinity that instead, Murray settled on the song ‘Linda Goes to Mars’. He says in the film, it’s the moment he said “huh” and shrugs his shoulders. The track is a tongue-in-cheek and upbeat moment of country humour mixed with the Swingtime pace of a dancefloor doozy. The song’s theme lands on a dimwitted husband who assumes his wife’s gormless expression as proof of life on Mars rather than a lack of interest in him.
The story Murray tells, as he thumbs through the book John Prine Beyond Words, is one of touching veracity and authenticity. Murray clearly has a very special place in his heart for Prine. After trying to have Prine flown in for the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor ceremony, Murray told the New York Post: “John Prine can make you laugh like no else can make you laugh.” He made Bill Murray laugh enough with his song ‘Linda Goes to Mars’ to pull him from a bout of poor mental health and that is most definitely good enough for us.
It is moments of the same positivity that will be spurring on Prine and his family in this current moment ad the Grammy Award-winning musician continues to fight for his life after contracting coronavirus. Prine, who is said to be in a “stable” condition but not improving, remains in the intensive care unit after his condition continued to worsen during self-isolation. Confirmation was made that the 73-year-old singer-songwriter had been hospitalised on Thursday and, after his situation continued to deteriorate, he was intubated on Saturday. The news came just days after Prine’s wife, Fiona Whelan Prine, said that she had coronavirus and that the couple were self-quarantining separately.
“After a sudden onset of Covid-19 symptoms,” a statement reads from Prine’s social media. “John was hospitalised on Thursday (March 26). He was intubated Saturday evening, and continues to receive care, but his situation is critical.”
Now, as Fiona Prine confirmed news that she herself had recovered from coronavirus, she added that John was both “stable” but his current situation is not improving: “I need to clarify what I mean by “John is stable,” she said. “That is not the same as improving. There is no cure for Covid-19. He needs our prayers and love – as do the thousands of others who are critically ill. Stay at home. Wash your hands. We love you.”
She added: “I have recovered from Covid-19. We are humbled by the outpouring of love for me and John and our precious family. He is stabile. Please continue to send your amazing Love and prayers. Sing his songs. Stay home and wash hands. John loves you. I love you.”
We know better than anyone else that music can often be the saviour when one is experiencing darker moments of mental health. However, if music isn’t doing the job, please speak to someone who you can talk to.