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Songs of Remembrance: Bruce Simms loved 'Paradise' by John Prine

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

More than 1 million people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19. NPR is remembering some of them by listening to the music they loved. Angela Simms lost her husband, Bruce, in February. She remembered him with her daughter, Dorri Smith.

ANGELA SIMMS: Bruce and I were married for 41 years. And Marc Benno's "Me And A Friend Of Mine" was our song. In fact, "Me And A Friend Of Mine" was my ringtone, and so I knew when he called because "Me And A Friend Of Mine" would come on the phone.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ME AND A FRIEND OF MINE")

MARC BENNO: (Singing) Me and a friend of mine. We're always right on time. Don't need no white lines.

SIMMS: We started dating in January of 1980. And when I went to his house, he has over 300 albums. We would listen to everything from Lou Rawls to Crash Test Dummies.

DORRI SMITH: The song that really resonates for me that he loved is "Paradise" by John Prine.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PARADISE")

JOHN PRINE: (Singing) And, daddy, won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County, down by the Green River where paradise lay?

SMITH: I just have very vivid memories of riding in his old Galaxie 500 two-tone blue monster of a car. And, you know, he'd have that in the cassette deck, and that's what we'd be listening to.

(SOUNDBITE OF JOHN PRINE SONG, "PARADISE")

SIMMS: He did construction and all. He grew up in North Miami Beach, and he worked on the Three Mile Bridge down in the Keys and did construction. And when he moved to Georgia, he did tree harvesting. His hearing was not all that great because of the chainsaw noises and whatever, so he listened to things at 15 decibels above what the rest of us could stand. But we let him do - you know, he loved his music, and that's what he did.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PARADISE")

PRINE: (Singing) And there's a backwards old town that's often remembered.

FADEL: That was Angela Simms and her daughter, Dorri Smith, remembering husband and father Bruce Simms of LaGrange, Ga. He died of COVID in February. He was 73 years old.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PARADISE")

PRINE: (Singing) Well, I'm sorry, my son. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.