Jason Isbell Reveals His Deep Connection to John Prine’s ‘Hello in There’ [Exclusive Video]
In a new video, premiering exclusively on The Boot, Isbell shares how "Hello in There" reminds him of his grandparents, aunts and uncles: extended family members with whom he spent plenty of time as a child, and who encouraged the future singer-songwriter's talents.
"When you were a kid, you depended on them, you know? Because, like, in my family, my parents would drop me off at my grandparents' house, and I would stay there all day, and my parents would go to work," Isbell recalls, "and my granddad would teach me how to play musical instruments to occupy my time."
Prine wrote "Hello in There," released on his 1971 self-titled album, in his early 20s. Isbell calls the track "perfect, as far as songs go," and admits that the fact that Prine penned the song at such a young age is, to him, "unthinkable, because the song has so much wisdom."
"So if you're walking down the street sometime / And spot some hollow, ancient eyes / Please don't just pass 'em by and stare as if you didn't care," Prine urges in "Hello in There," from the point of view of an elderly man eager for human connection. "Say, 'Hello in there, hello.'"
"I certainly think about the elders in my family and my wife's family," Isbell says of hearing the song. "I think that's the beauty of this song, more than anything else, is it motivates the listener to be a better human, and that's ultimately about the best thing we can ask of each other."
Isbell's new cover of "Hello in There" is part of Music Moments, a collection of new recordings and unreleased songs by, in addition to Isbell, Band of Horses, Brett Eldredge, Lee Ann Womack and others. The project focuses on how music is linked to important moments and people, and aims to raise awareness about Alzheimer's disease.
"I'm one of those hopeful people that thinks, eventually, we'll find a cure," Isbell says. "I think awareness is the key to everything ... It's all about being aware ... and using more of our resources to find a cure."
As part of the Music Moments series, the Alzheimer's Association is encouraging fans to share the songs they connect with special moments by using the #MyMusicMoment hashtag.
Isbell has more new music coming soon: The artist and his band, the 400 Unit, will release a brand-new album, Reunions, on May 15.
Jason Isbell's Best Live Shots