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DAILY PLAYLIST: A toast to those who are gone; Prine, Withers, Willner & more

The songwriter's songwriter, John Prine, passed away on Tuesday due to complications related to COVID-19. Today's Daily Playlist pays tribute to his work, as well as other recent musical losses like producer Hal Willner, Fountains of Wayne member and movie/TV collaborator Adam Schlesinger, soul giant Bill Withers and Afro-jazz pioneer Manu Dibango. - Reuters

In Memoriam - A YouTube Playlist (link)

The death of John Prine due to novel coronavirus complications was not the news we wanted to wake up to today. Just over a week ago, I posted a Daily Playlist tribute to his legacy after it was reported he was in stable condition after contracting the virus, but by now we all know that COVID-19 takes a devastating toll on the healthy as well as those with underlying conditions. But still, you have to hope for the best while preparing for the worst, and for the dedicated fanbase of one of the most gifted songwriters of our time, whose songs spoke to anyone who heard them, this will be a tough day filled with memories and music.

Just before calling it a day on Tuesday evening, I learned that music producer and tribute album/concert mastermind Hal Willner had also passed away as a result of contracting COVID-19. I was a fan of his work before I even knew who he was, when he produced music for sketches on Saturday Night Live. But then I discovered his all-star albums devoted to the work of Thelonius Monk, Kurt Weill, the music of Walt Disney and more recent projects paying tribute to Leonard Cohen and reviving old songs of the sea. His ability to unite today's greatest talents with outstanding art from the past in a glorious celebration of the musical continuum, with humour as well as reverence, is what made his contribution to the world so wonderful.

So Prine and Willner are now added to a list that also includes Fountains of Wayne founder and Monkees/That Thing You Do collaborator Adam Schlesinger and Afro-jazz legend Manu Dibango who are no longer with us due to COVID-19. And the (non-COVID-19-related) passing of soul legend Bill Withers just seems to deepen the ache, at a time when his anthem of support and solidarity, Lean on Me, feels more potent than ever. This collection of songs is just a drop in the bucket compared to what these artists brought to our lives, but it's important to listen and remember.

John Prine - Summer's End

John Prine - When I Get to Heaven

Bonnie Raitt - Baby Mine (from Hal Willner's Stay Awake)

Lou Reed - September Song (from Hal Willner's Lost in the Stars)

Fountains of Wayne - Somebody to Love

The Wonders - That Thing You Do (written by Adam Schlesinger)

Bill Withers - Lean on Me

Bill Withers - Harlem

Manu Dibango - Soul Makossa

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