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(Credit: Wikimedia / WFUV Public Radio)

Music

Remembering John Prine and Bruce Springsteen's duet on 'Take A Look At My Heart'

@josephtaysom

John Prine and Bruce Springsteen both found themselves hailed as the ‘New Dylan’ when they emerged into the mainstream consciousness. It’s an unreasonable tag to live up to as, of course, there’ll never be another Bob Dylan. However, nobody will successfully replicate the charm of John Prine or Bruce Springsteen either.

Even though the comparisons were rife when they both began their respective journeys, Springsteen and Prine veered off their own distinct paths as their careers evolved. With Prine largely retaining his folkie intuitions throughout, ‘The Boss’ became the voice of heartland America.

Following Prine’s death last year due to complications resulting from coronavirus, Springsteen was devastated. A few days after his passing, ‘The Boss’ took to the airwaves on SiriusXM’s E Street station to address his mourning and delivered a heartfelt passage to his listeners about his memories of John.

“John Prine was a sweet and lovely man, and I was proud to count him as my friend,” he said. “He wrote music of towering compassion with an almost unheard of precision and creativity when it came to observing the fine details of ordinary lives.

“He was a writer of great humour, funny, with wry sensitivity. It has marked him as a complete original. His death just makes me angry. He was simply one of the best we had, and we will miss him.”

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Professionally, they worked together just twice. First, in 1988, Springsteen joined him on stage in Tarrytown, New York, to duet on Prine’s track, ‘Paradise’. Then, three years later, they headed into the studio to record ‘Take A Look At My Heart’.

Bruce takes a backseat on the track and only chimes in with backing vocals that magnificently complement Prine. Interestingly, the collaboration was impromptu. Coincidentally they both visited the same Italian restaurant on the day they recorded ‘Take A Look At My Heart’ and the material was born out of a conversation between them over lunch.

Springsteen reportedly asked Prine, “When you guys get into the record and have something to play, please invite me over. I’d just love to play guitar or harmonica or sing or whatever.” Later that day, ‘The Boss’ joined him in the studio, and they created ‘Take A Look At My Heart’. While Bruce’s contribution to the track remains minimal in contrast to Prine, hearing these two titans of American songwriting combine is joyous.

Prine’s status as ‘The Songwriter’s Songwriter’ is confirmed by Bruce’s transformation into a crazed fan in his company and his eagerness to feature on the same track as the man he called “simply one of the best”.

Stream the recording, below.