John Prine’s ‘Hello In There’ is een van de allermooiste songs die ik ken, het is zonder twijfel het beste nummer van John Prine, en ik ken geen enkel lied dat op zulke indringende wijze de eenzaamheid van oudere mensen bezingt. De originele versie vind je op John Prine’s titelloze eerste elpee uit 1971 op het Atlantic label. Ik gebruik niet graag dat woord, maar het is zonder twijfel een meesterwerk. Velen denken dat ‘Hello In There’ van Bette Midler is. Nee, beste lezers, het is van the one and only John Prine.

We had an apartment in the city,
Me and Loretta liked living there.
Well, it’d been years since the kids had grown,
A life of their own left us alone.

John and Linda live in Omaha,
And Joe is somewhere on the road.
We lost Davy in the Korean war,
And I still don’t know what for, it don’t matter anymore.

You know that old trees just grow stronger,
And old rivers grow wilder every day.
Old people just grow lonesome
Waiting for someone to say, “Hello in there, hello.”

Me and Loretta, we don’t talk much more,
She sits and stares through the back door screen.
And all the news just repeats itself
Like some forgotten dream that we’ve both seen.

Someday I’ll go and call up Rudy,
We worked together at the factory.
But what could I say if asks “What’s new?”
“Nothing, what’s with you? Nothing much to do.”

So if you’re walking down the street sometime
And spot some hollow ancient eyes,
Please don’t just pass them by and stare
As if you didn’t care, say, “Hello in there, hello.”