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[Blog] How Singer-Songwriter John Prine Helped Me Accept A Life of Illness

Discussion in 'Lifestyle Management' started by InitialConditions, Apr 8, 2021.

  1. InitialConditions

    InitialConditions Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    North-West England
    This is a beautiful piece about becoming chronically ill, learning to cope under the extreme burden, and accepting a new reality. It was written over the course of a year by Matt Lazell-Fairman, who has ME, and whom I know through his wife Katie. Matt is also the son of Mary Dimmock, who now advocates for ME patients in the US (and may be on the forum).

    Last edited: Apr 8, 2021
    rainy, Binkie4, Sing and 31 others like this.
  2. Michiel Tack

    Michiel Tack Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Cool, thanks for sharing.

    I like this version of John Prine's Angel from Montgomery the most.

  3. Medfeb

    Medfeb Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    @InitialConditions - thank you for posting. Matthew is my son. I'm biased of course but I think this piece is remarkable for its quality of writing and also for its deeply personal story of coming to grips. As much as I might think I understand the impact ME has had on his life, I continue to learn
    rainy, Binkie4, shak8 and 23 others like this.
  4. DokaGirl

    DokaGirl Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Both Matt Lazell-Fairman's and John Prine's words are beautiful, and sad.

    Used to listen to John Prine on CBC Radio's Basic Black, a wonderfully eclectic show with host Arthur Black. Sadly, Arthur is gone now too.

    I think Matt's work eloquently describes so many of our terrible experiences with this cruel, and neglected disease. No matter how many cruel experiences I have with this disease, I can still be shocked by others' horrifying encounters.

    The world suffers because of ME, not only our band of members. So many could give so much more if the world would find a meaningful way to help.

    Thank you @InitialConditions for your thread.
    Binkie4, Sing, shak8 and 12 others like this.
  5. Mfairma

    Mfairma Established Member (Voting Rights)

    Thank you for sharing. I agree! It’s beautiful
    Louie41, Sing, shak8 and 5 others like this.
  6. Mfairma

    Mfairma Established Member (Voting Rights)

    Thanks for sharing!
  7. Hutan

    Hutan Moderator Staff Member

    Thank you Matt. I found your essay very powerful, and sad, and the Angel from Montgomery song was both of those things too. I'd quote the last bit of the essay, as I think there's a lot of wisdom in it, but I'll leave others to get to it themselves.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2021
    Louie41, Sing, shak8 and 6 others like this.
  8. wingate

    wingate Established Member (Voting Rights)

    I'm also a fan of "Jesus - The Missing Years". Lots of lyrics that make me chuckle.

    Great essay, Matt. Thanks for sharing. I also thought the photo at the beginning was so interesting!
    Louie41, Sing, alktipping and 6 others like this.
  9. Mfairma

    Mfairma Established Member (Voting Rights)

    Thank you. I took it after reading about Abelardo Morell in National Geographic in 2012. His work is incredible. I thought at the time that camera obscura might be an interesting way to juxtapose images of ME patients with the world outside our windows. Even with the bright Arizona sun though, I had to sit as still as possible for 2 1/2 minutes to get a good exposure, which meant my upper half came out somewhat blurry. I felt like I wouldn’t get the results I wanted and thinking about the logistics of trying to make images of other patients was too overwhelming. I don’t know too much about photography, though, so maybe there were or are ways to shorten exposure times or light the subject in a way that gets a clearer image. I even tried flipping the camera obscura with prisms, but it narrows and distorts the projection so much you lose some of the wide field of view that makes camera obscura so affecting.
    shak8, alktipping, Hutan and 4 others like this.
  10. Trish

    Trish Moderator Staff Member

    A brilliant article, so much wisdom, so much to ponder. Thank you, Matt.
    Sing, shak8, alktipping and 3 others like this.
  11. Sing

    Sing Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    New England
    Thank you, Matt! Your article, by which I also mean you, and John Prine are well worthy of each other.

    I had not even known of this singer until I started reading about a few of the people who had been lost to covid, starting last year. His qualities shone the more I read and listened. I found that Bob Dylan was one of his greatest admirers. Originally the only one of his songs I had heard was "Angel From Montgomery", a beautiful and evocative one about an old woman, but soon I had a new favorite, "Lonesome Friends of Science", which you can hear at
    I love its humorous, telling combination of the homely and cosmic. He sings,

    "The lonesome friends of science say
    The world will end most any day
    Well if it does then that's okay
    Cause I don't live here anyway

    I live down deep inside my head
    Where long ago I made my bed
    I get my mail in Tennessee
    My wife, my dog and my kids and me."

    What thrilled me was how he said that even if if the whole world ends, that is okay for him because here is not where he lives. Though he says it is inside his head--maybe for the purpose of a rhyme which he says he always tries to do-- the way I'd put it for myself is that the place where I really live is actually my soul, and he just reminded me of this. Maybe this is where each of us truly lives and knowing it gives us a freedom and different kind of grounding, a point of reflection and relationship, that is beyond destroying.

    When he was a young man, he worked for years as a mailman and he said that is when he fell in love with old people, the vulnerable, isolated old people he would talk with as he delivered their mail. So he started writing some songs about them, and when people would ask him what his ambition in life was, he would say he wanted to be an old person.

    In his life he had to battle free of heavy drinking early on and later, two near terminal bouts with cancer. But mostly he lived as a bard, musician and family man His empathy, compassion, simplicity, depth and humor keep touching people and lifting us up.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2021
    Andy, Mfairma, Binkie4 and 3 others like this.
  12. Mfairma

    Mfairma Established Member (Voting Rights)

    Well said. I hadn’t thought about Lonesome Friends too deeply, but I like your interpretation.

    He certainly seems like he was an uncommonly humane and grounded person. I’ve learned a lot from his music and appreciate how often it gives cause to reflect. Listening to songs that make me reflect helps me think a little differently about a problem, I think, and his songs touch on themes I don’t see much.
    Sing, Trish and Andy like this.

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