John Prine’s “Summer’s End” Spotlights America’s Opioid Crisis

There is an extensive generation of American kids being raised by their grandparents as a direct result of the country’s opioid crisis. Their story is told in John Prine’s heart-wrenching new video for “Summer’s End” from his latest album The Tree of Forgiveness.

It is the music video directorial debut for Oscar-nominated, Heroine and Recovery Boys documentarians, Elaine McMillion Sheldon and Kerrin Sheldon. And it is dedicated to Max Barry, the late son of former Nashville mayor Megan Barry, who is one of Prine’s closest friends. She is forever connected to everyone affected by the opioid crisis ever since her son died of an overdose in 2017. He was 22 and her only child. Prine performed at his memorial in Nashville.

“The opioid crisis is tearing American families apart,” Prine says. “I love what Elaine and Kerrin have done with my song for this video. I hope a lot of people see it.”

McMillion Sheldon and Shelton shot the piece in Richmond, W. Va. with first-time actors. Five-year-old Emily Bignall McMillion plays a little girl who is being raised by her grandfather (played by Sheldon’s grandfather, Paw Paw Doy Russell) after her mother dies. As the story unfolds, it’s unclear her cause of death until a report on the tragic statistics involving the country’s opioid crisis comes on the TV news.

“It was an absolute honor to collaborate with a legend like John Prine,” Sheldon said. “We were excited to make our very first music video and showcase the Mountain State in a beautiful and cinematic way.”

Prine returns to Nashville on Oct. 5-6 for two sold-out nights at the Ryman. He will ring in New Year’s Eve with a sold-out concert at the Grand Ole Opry House.

By: Lauren Tingle on

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