Hello In There

Album: John Prine (1971)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • Folk singer-songwriter John Prine explained in a Performing Songwriter interview how this track was sparked from a John Lennon tune and evolved into a poignant song about growing old:

    "I heard the John Lennon song 'Across The Universe,' and he had a lot of reverb on his voice. I was thinking about hollering into a hollow log, trying to get through to somebody - 'Hello in there.' That was the beginning thought, then it went to old people

    I've always had an affinity for old people. I used to help a buddy with his newspaper route, and I delivered to a Baptist old peoples home where we'd have to go room-to-room. And some of the patients would kind of pretend that you were a grandchild or nephew that had come to visit, instead of the guy delivering papers. That always stuck in my head.

    It was all that stuff together, along with that pretty melody. I don't think I've done a show without singing 'Hello in There.' Nothing in it wears on me."
  • Prine on choosing the name Loretta for the song's aging wife (as told to Bruce Pollock): "The names mean a lot. You know, like Loretta in 'Hello In There.' I wanted to pick a name that could be an old person's name, but I didn't want it to stick out so much. People go through phases one year where a lot of them will name their kids the same... and I was just thinking that it was very possible that the kind of person I had in mind could be called Loretta. And it's not so strange that it puts her in a complete time period."

    As for the name of old factory friend Rudy, Prine explains: "We used to live in this three-room flat and across the street there was this dog who would never come in and the dog's name was Rudy. And the lady used to come out at five o'clock every night and go 'Ru-dee! Ru-dee!' And I was sitting there writing and suddenly I go 'Rudy! Yeah! I got that.'"

Comments: 6

  • Tunk from Unionville NyThank you for this webpage, and for this background on such a beautiful song. Miss you, Johnny.
  • Ken I from IllinoisI was very lucky to have discovered for myself John Prine, Steve Goodnan( City of New Ooleans), David Bromberg...and so many more back I 1968 when I lived in Chicago. They all played at folk clubs like Earl of OldTown, Fifth Peg and Quiet Knight. Magic time in folk music and magic times in Chicago for me. Ken
  • Occamsshaver from MaI was very fortunate to have seen John Prine perform in Nashville on New Year's Eve 2019-2020. He played for approximately 3 hours with such personality and energy. He was dancing at midnight! My wife and I were in town and it was dumb luck when I looked on StubHub to see what shows were going on. Our first, and sadly, last time ever seeing Mr. Prine. Marty Stuart and his band were excellent, and the acoustic duo that opened was really good, and frankly were all icing on the delicious cake.
  • Ed W. from Reno NvJoan Baez has a nice tribute version of this Prine song on YouTube. From her kitchen.
  • Anonymous from Outer MongoliaIt is interesting Now that John Prine has passed, to see all the folks who somehow missed one of the the greatest singer song writers of the past 100 years.
    I am glad he is getting the wide spread recognition he deserved ,just unfortunate that som many "woke folk" never knew about his incredable song writing skills sooner
  • Dp457 from CanadaHow naive I am or not stopping to smell the roses. It takes a pandemic to discover these artists - heck, there out there!
    It was a recent FB post of an ole army buddy that describes how he can only see his Paps behind a window in ole folks home. There is a photo of his dad, and link to this song.
    I can relate to John story about newspaper route. I use to deliver papers in early 80s, and would meet few nice old folks that would take a moment to have conversation- more me listening or answering questions.
    Great songs John Prine - Rest In Peace.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Dean Pitchford

Dean PitchfordSongwriter Interviews

Dean wrote the screenplay and lyrics to all the songs in Footloose. His other hits include "Fame" and "All The Man That I Need."

The Police

The PoliceFact or Fiction

Do their first three albums have French titles? Is "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" really meaningless? See if you can tell in this Fact or Fiction.

What Musicians Are Related to Other Musicians?

What Musicians Are Related to Other Musicians?Song Writing

A big list of musical marriages and family relations ranging from the simple to the truly dysfunctional.

Don Dokken

Don DokkenSongwriter Interviews

Dokken frontman Don Dokken explains what broke up the band at the height of their success in the late '80s, and talks about the botched surgery that paralyzed his right arm.

Andy McClusky of OMD

Andy McClusky of OMDSongwriter Interviews

Known in America for the hit "If You Leave," OMD is a huge influence on modern electronic music.

Who's Johnny, And Why Does He Show Up In So Many Songs

Who's Johnny, And Why Does He Show Up In So Many SongsSong Writing

For songwriters, Johnny represents the American man. He has been angry, cool, magic, a rebel and, of course, marching home.