Take a few minutes out of your day to listen to this sweet live version of Kurt Vile and John Prine singing Prine's How Lucky at the Grand Ole Opry House, New Year's Eve, 2019 (just a few months before Prine died of COVID in April, 2020). The first time I heard Kurt Vile singing Prine, and singing with Prine—on Vile's EP Speed, Sound, Lonely KV—I knew Vile and Prine were a match made in heaven. The EP includes Vile's delightful cover of Prine's Speed of the Sound of Loneliness—he speeds it up a bit, changes the timing of the delivery of the lyrics, and manages to keep the spirit of the original while adding his own quirky touches, like his endearing lilt throughout, and his meandering improvisation of 'run' at the end of the song.
Vile's music can be reassuring and, at its best, transporting. Featuring both men singing and picking together, "How Lucky" considers all the glorious details in the world that greet us every day, but acknowledges there are infinitely too many for our brains to catalog and archive. The point is, you'll never run out. "There was all these things that I don't think I remember," they sing together on the final verse, before realizing, "Hey, how lucky can one man get." It doesn't feel quite as momentous as you'd expect from a meeting of these two mellow rock and rollers, and that's okay. It's sweetly minor, much like the other songs on here.
I dunno, it feels pretty momentous to me—it's about as close to perfection as I can imagine. As Gerry Fournier commented on the video for Speed of the Sound of Loneliness: "The soul of John Prine lives through Kurt Vile."
For more live Vile and Prine, here they are performing "Paradise" (with Fiona Prine), Speed of the Sound of Loneliness, and Sam Stone (starts at 4:00), all from the same show in Philadelphia, April, 2018.