Bill Murray On How John Prine Helped Him Get His Sense Of Humor Back

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It’s a sad day in a really sad era.

The world lost John Prine today, the beloved singer-songwriter behind some of the most songs in the great American songbook.

Illegal Smile

Hello In There

Angel from Montgomery

The list goes on and on.

On Tuesday, Prine passed away at 73 due to complications from coronavirus.

Prine was a one-of-a-king. A true national treasure.

A brilliant wordsmith with a wry sense of humor, Prine was inspiration to Bob Dylan and, well, pretty much anyone who write a song or told a story in the last 50 years. His songs celebrated what it means to be deeply human with a humorous, oddly existential twist.

Prine’s life and legacy touched millions, including legendary actor Bill Murray.

A couple years ago, while Prine was recording the album The Tree Of Forgiveness, Murray filmed a video for Prine called “John Prine: Beyond Words.”

It’s a simple story, captured with Prine in the room. Murray recalls a time when he was “a real bummer to be around – a real downer.” In Murray’s own words: He wasn’t depressed, but he wasn’t really happy.

A place we’ve all been.

A great moment of ancient Gonzo wisdom, Murray’s friend, the late, great writer Hunter S. Thompson, told Murray that he’d have to “rely on John Prine for a little sense of humor.”

Murray even gives a Dr. Gonzo impression.

“I thought that was one of the most adult things you could say,” Murray recalls.

While Murray was “feeling so miserable,” he listened to Prine’s song “Linda Goes To Mars” while listening to the album German Afternoons. 

As Murray puts it: “And that was the beginning of the return…”

And that’s the simple yet profound magic of John Prine’s music in a nutshell.

In 2016, when Murray won the Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, he tried to get John there, telling the Washington Post:

“I thought it would have been a nice deal because John Prine can make you laugh like no else can make you laugh,” he says.

The two were tight, recording the following storytelling session for the Grammy museum in fall 2018.


Rest easy, John.

Enjoy that cocktail. Vodka and ginger ale.

Maybe smoke a cigarette that’s nine miles long.

Brandon Wenerd avatar
BroBible's publisher and a founding partner, circa 2009. Brandon is based in Los Angeles, where he oversees BroBible's partnership team and other business development activities. He still loves to write and create content, including subjects related to internet culture, food, live music, Phish, the Grateful Dead, Philly sports, and adventures of all kinds. Email: