A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor
Garrison's European Travelogue

Saturday, March 10, 2 a.m., Dublin
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Saturdays are a grind, a ton of pressure and phone calls and pushing to finish things by noon or 2 or 3, and occasional frantic thoughts (Yikes!) but sympathy would be wasted on me, it's what we're in this business for, really, instead of being philosophers or poets. A productive day, after being in the languors of despond all Thursday: got up at 6, wrote a new Guy Noir script that was actually rather funny, and a Ketchup (which we didn't use) and a Mournful Oatmeal and a Rhubarb Pie, and wrote up some notes that my friends Jon and Marcia made about Dublin and the churches and Jonathan Swift and the Vikings and all, and decided to quote Yeats in the monologue, "Had I the Embroidered Cloths of Heaven," and this all transpired in about six hours. Deadlines certainly focus the mind. And most of the time, this is what is needed. Someone puts a gun to your head and says Dance and you dance.

Took a cab to the Vicar Street club and the cabdriver was a woman in her late forties with a whole big monologue about the difficulties of her trade. The club is small, seating about 600, very intimate, and this is such a luxury for us, to be able to do the show to a crowd that is Right There. It's half the size of the Fitzgerald crowd and when you sit on the stool to do the News from Lake Wobegon, it's like conversing with your friends over dinner. Frank Harte, the singer, was tickled to be cast in the Guy Noir drama as a priest, Father Paddy O'Furniture, and he did a credible job of it, and I love his singing. He brought along Donal Lunny to play on a Sean O'Casey song. Frank had told me he wanted to sing a ballad about an execution, "The Night That Larry Stretched," but he changed his mind: too long, too dark, he said. Our Irish actors were terrific, Joe Taylor and Deirdre Monaghan. Joe starred in an Irish radio production of Joyce's "Ulysses" in which he played fifteen roles. The production lasted 29 hours, the longest continuous radio broadcast in history. Deirdre works a lot in radio and TV here. Both were great to work with. And the sisters who sang in Irish ---- what a beautiful act. I could listen to this singing all night. We closed the show with "The Parting Glass," which my friend Cathal McConnell sang to me after our last Dublin show, sitting in a bar at 2 a.m.

After the show, Jon and Marcia and I walked back to the hotel,the streets full of young people out for their Saturday night. I hardly remember what it's like to be so young and to have such high hopes for an evening. Landed in the Shelbourne lobby and found Scott Rivard and Sam Hudson and Rich Dworsky sitting at a table and we joined them for drinks. My three old stalwarts. The broadcast engineer and the sound man and the piano player. Hard to imagine how we'd operate without these gentlemen. So I bought the drinks. Pints of Guinness and shots of Jameson's and raspberry juice for Rich, the only upstanding one in the bunch.

Lovely, lovely, after the day's work and a good show. Of course it could have been better, but never mind. Everyone got to say his or her piece. I even snuck in a verse about my dad in "Lighthouse". We sat up until 3 a.m., talking, and hit the sack.

Sunday, March 11, En Route to St. Paul
A porter bangs on my door, it's 6 a.m. and I was supposed to be in the lobby at 5:45 to go to the airport. So I hustle around and hurtle downstairs and jump in a taxi and get out there in plenty of time. Check two bags through to Minneapolis and get on the plane to London.

The great thing about staying up late the night before is that you can sleep on the plane, even in tiny coach seats. I slept to London, then boarded the Northwest flight, a DC-10, which was packed. I sat in my tiny aisle seat, 16H, and felt the old claustrophobia and nearby a child screeched and then the plane lifted off and I eased the seat back and slept.

It was a good trip. I left the U.S. knowing that Dad was in bad shape and he died Thursday but I know where he was and how he died and who he was with and what was on his mind and it was all for the best. And my wife and little girl had to cancel coming over, but that was for the best too ---- to have a sick child in a strange city is a horror. And someday we'll come back to Germany and Ireland and do more shows. A person has all sorts of regrets in life but you never regret the adventures, the foreign cities, the ambitious trips.

And now this one is done. The taxi rolls up in front of our house in St. Paul and a little girl and her mother stand bundled up in the driveway, waiting for me. Good luck to all of you and try to make peace with your fathers.

Read all entries from Garrison Keillor's 2001 European Travelogue.


Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

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