singer songwriter, environmentalist — John Prine.
COVID-19 complications took one of the best singer songwriters of all time.
Prine wrote one of my favorite songs of all time is called ‘Paradise,’ named after Paradise, Kentucky; which is where John Prine’s grandparents lived and is a few hours from my native home of Louisville, Kentucky.
The song was about the impact of strip mining for coal that changed the countryside in western Kentucky, which John Prine witnessed as a kid visiting his father’s hometown in Western Kentucky. One day the Peabody Coal Company bought all the land in Paradise and, according to John Prine, “Then the bulldozers came in and wiped it all off the map.”
The Peabody Coal Company was just one of those that were mentioned in the song. “Paradise” is a town in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. The song later became an anthem for environmentalists in the 1970s. As a counter, Peabody Coal Company went as far as to file a lawsuit to have lyrics struck from John Prine’s song.
My father and grandfather visited the site in the 1960s. The “shovel bucket was the size of a house and would eventually be buried in hillside once the plant was closed. The executives would fly in for the day and leave right after the meetings — without appreciation for the devastation they had caused.”
Having seen Paradise, it’s a profound statement on the lasting impact of King Coal, as it’s called in Kentucky. It stuck with me. It helped shape motivation to focus on clean energy.
I appreciate all you brought to this world and we will miss you.
The impact of the coal industry doesn’t stop with Paradise. In recent years, I heard about the news of unpaid and laid off coalminers in Harlan County. I read an article in Louisville’s local newspaper called the Courier Journal. It reminded me of the impact of the coal sector has had on my home state. Not just unemployment, but also the lasting impact to the environment. I donated some funds alongside some friends and family to help pay for groceries, utility bills and rent for displaced coal miners who lost their job in the unfortunate layoff situation. Trying to help and do our part to soften the blow.
Chris is an Environmentalist, Capitalist, Minimalist and the Founder and CEO of Palmetto. An avid hiker, fly fisherman as well as writer. Chris undertakes a series of projects — educational books, film production and charitable activities — to help educate all types of people, young and old, about the importance of climate change and the environment. He lives in San Francisco, CA and Charleston, SC. More can be found on christopherkemper.com