Wednesday, 08 April 2020 09:07

Dear John,

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I really thought you were going to make it. The news of you being stricken broke last week and this pandemic's casualties rose everyday. But your name hadn't been mentioned so I thought "no news is good news." The bad news came yesterday. Your immune system was compromised after your cancer fight twenty years ago. A fight that changed the very look of your face. I am sure you put up another valliant fight. 

Tributes to you are all over my news feed, many including the lyrics to the posters' favorite songs. "Angel From Montgomery," "Hello In There," and countless others. Mine would be, "There's a hole in Daddy's arm where all the money goes." I first heard that one in high school just a few years after it came out. For a while I thought that was the title. You called it "Sam Stone." You told the story of a Viet Nam war vet who comes home and can't quite assimilate back into stateside society. It is apparent he has a drug problem, one that later kills him. I loved your simplistic songwriting style and how you mixed homespun with an at-times playful side but also with biting social commentary. It was done so effortlessly and innocently.

If I said you inspired so many, you'd probably respond with an "Aww shucks, it was nothin'." It wasn't nothing. It was something that will be remembered for a long time. 

Farewell to a great American songwriter.


(Photo Credit: Charlie Gillett Collection/Getty Images)

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