A Year In December is a series of notes in which I talk about a song a day until the end of the year, limiting myself to one paragraph. They will be songs that have been part of my aural life this year so most of them are relatively new releases. Today, I talk about something by John Prine.
“You don’t have to be alone.” I’ve heard this line so many times before in so many songs, so I type this into Google. It returns songs by NSYNC, a guy named Jacob Young, and Coldplay. The search engine also suggests I append the word ‘tonight.’ Surely, someone out there has followed the line with ‘babe.’ Something about it smells of arrogance. You may feel alone, but it’s okay, since in the singer there are the comfiest arms the world can bring. Or, the other interpretation is that it’s simply not necessarily to go solo, which, I mean, almost nothing’s necessary in life if you think about it. But when these words come out of John Prine, 72 years old and with a voice that yearns to carry a tune, it works. In the words “come on home” there is someone out there, far away, and the singer is here, waiting. And wait is something the singer done for a long time, if they’re still referring to the “old house [they] thought was haunted.” First lover, old friend, estranged wife? I guess the reason this song has so much gravity for me is that it could be anyone and everyone, including me.