Love Ballads
Saturday, June 1, 1996

GUITAR INTRO

GK: O Western wind, when wilt thou blow
That the small rains down shall rain.
O that my love were in my arms
And I in my bed again.

SS: There was a message on the answering machine when I came home today. From a woman. She said her name was Donna.

GK: Oh? What did she want?

SS: She didn't say. I thought maybe you would know.

GK: What did she say?

SS: She said, "This is Donna." And then she gave a phone number.

GK: And that's all?

SS: What else were you hoping for?

GK: (SIGH) She's somebody I knew a long time ago, okay?

SS: She sounded as if she hadn't forgotten you.

GK: It was a long time ago. I haven't spoken to her or written to her or heard from her in years. Okay? She's part of my past. She's over. Okay?

SS: (PAUSE) Why are you getting all worked up over it?

GK: I'm not. I'm not.

SS: You're not?

GK: I'm not.

Down by the Salley Gardens, my love and I did meet.
She passed the Salley Gardens on little snow white feet
She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree,
But I being young and foolish, with her did not agree.

In a field down by the river, my love and I did stand
And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand
She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs,
But I was young and foolish and now am full of tears.

SS: So where does Donna live now? If you don't mind my asking.

GK: I don't mind at all. I have no idea where she lives now. How would I know? I told you, I lost track of her.

SS: You "lost track of her"? what does that mean? she was taken from your grasp? you're still looking for her?

GK: No, it doesn't.

SS: The number she gave was a local number. In fact, I think it's right here in town.

GK: I wouldn't know where she is. I probably wouldn't even recognize her if I saw her.

SS: Is she the one you told me about once, the one with the little snow-white feet and hands?

GK: They were snow-white, I doubt that they are anymore. This was a long time ago.

SS: How long ago?

GK: Before I met you.

SS: What happened to her?

GK: I don't know. We broke up. We said goodbye. I haven't heard from her since.

SS: She certainly has a sexy voice.

GK: I wouldn't know.

SS: I never heard anyone imply so much with a seven-digit number.

GK: O Donna Johnson you are my darling
Come set you down upon my knee
And tell to me, love, the very reason
That I am slighted so by thee.

I'm deep in love so I cannot deny it,
My heart lies smothered in my chest,
Twas long ago we walked in the meadow
And still my heart can know no rest.

SS: So you knew her before the woman with the jet black hair or after her?

GK: Does it matter?

SS: Well, you never mentioned her to me before. You mentioned all the others but somehow you omitted Donna, so I'm trying to fit her into the chronology of old lovers.

GK: (SIGH)

SS: So she comes before the woman with jet-black hair and after Barbry Allen?

GK: You know, this isn't something I keep right up in the front of my mind every day---

SS: Well, was she before Barbry Allen or after Barbry Allen?

GK: Actually, she was before any of them.

SS: Uh huh.

GK: She was before the gypsy girl and Kathleen Mavourneen and Fair Ellen and all of them.

SS: I see. (PAUSE) Are you happy?

GK: Yeah. Sure.

SS: Are you?

GK: I don't know. How happy is a person supposed to be?

SS: Happy. You know. Busy. Occupied. Doing things. Not haunted by the past. Not crying out in your sleep at night.

GK: I cry out in my sleep?

SS: Yes. You make these whimpering cries and when I try to comfort you, you turn your back on me.

GK: What do I say?

SS: You just whimper. Sort of dog-like.

GK: Really?

SS: I think you're under a lot of stress and you don't know it.

GK: Awwww.

SS: I think you should see a doctor.

GK: I did.

SS: When?

GK: Last week.

SS: Really. What did he say?

GK: He said I was fine......(MUSIC)

The joys of love are but a moment long
The pain of love endures the whole night long.

My love loves me, and all the wonders I see.
A rainbow shines in my window, my love loves me.

And now she's gone, in the cold grey dawn
And I must pick up my shovel and carry on.

TR: Well---everything looks fine. Heart sounds good....lungs sound clear....nothing abnormal internally.....blood pressure is excellent....prostate is healthy for a guy your age....so--- give me a call in a few days after we get the results from the blood and urine tests, and I'll go over that with you, but I'd say you're just fine.

GK: Good.

TR: How's your life right now?

GK: Good.

TR: No unusual psychological stress? no difficulty sleeping? no crying out or whimpering, doglike, in the night?

GK: No. Nothing like that.

TR: Well, that's good. Good to see you.

GK: Thanks. Good to see you.

TR: Say--- by the way, there was a woman patient of mine who asked about you. Asked if I knew you. Woman about your age. Diane was her name, I think. Or Danielle.

GK: Donna?

TR: Right. Donna. So you know her?

GK: Knew her years ago. Thought she moved away.

TR: Yeah, I guess she lived in California for awhile but she moved back to town a couple months ago. She was wondering if I knew you.

GK: Huh. Interesting. Is she all right?

TR: What do you mean?

GK: Well, I mean--- are you treating her for anything serious? Not that it's any of my business.

TR: No, no, no, no. No, she came in because she's trying to lose weight.

GK: Lose weight?

TR: Yeah. She's kind of a heavy gal.

GK: Donna? Donna Gordon? A "heavy gal"?

TR: Right.

GK: Heavy gal???? You're talking about the great beauty of my youth.

TR: Really.

GK: She had snow-white hands and feet.

TR: Well, she's got liver spots and varicose veins now.

GK: SIGH

TR: Not much I could do about that.

GK: SIGH

TR: But I did refer her to a psychiatrist.

GK: Oh really.

TR: Yeah. She can't sleep, she said. ----Are you all right?

GK: Could you check my blood pressure again?

TR: What's wrong?

GK: It feels like it just dropped. I'm not sure my heart is still beating.

TR: Let me check.

GK: O love is handsome and love is fine
Gay as a jewel when first it is new
But love grows old and waxes cold
And fades away like morning dew.

SS: I noticed the message was erased on the machine.

GK: Oh really? which message?

SS: The one from What's her name? Snow White.

GK: Oh, that. I guess I erased that.

SS: You guess?

GK: Yes, I erased that.

SS: Did you write down her number?

GK: No.

SS: Did you call her?

GK: No, I didn't.

SS: Why not?

GK: I don't know.

SS: Didn't she ask you to?

GK: It's not important.

SS: You were whimpering in your sleep again last night. Maybe it is important. So you don't have her number?

GK: I probably could remember it if I had to.

SS: Well, that's an interesting way to put it.

GK: Could we not talk about this anymore?

SS: You know --- for me, the phrase "Could we not talk about this" really sends up smoke signals. You know?

GK: SIGH

SS: It's such a cry for help. Why don't we invite her over for dinner some night?

GK: No.

SS: Her and her husband. Is she married?

GK: I have no idea. I don't care.

Down by the Salley Gardens, my love and I did pass.
I walked beside the river, where she lay upon the grass.
And all was young and lovely, the green leaves on the tree,
And I turned and I forgot her, and my love is still with me.

GK: I had a wonderful idea today. Why don't we move to the Virgin Islands and start over? At the beginning. You'll be my first love and I'll be yours, and we'll be twenty.

SS: Then we'd be younger than our children.

GK: We won't think of them as our children anymore. We'll think of them as our cousins.

SS: Cousins----

GK: Listen. We're a couple of practical people and we know that you have to face facts sometimes and the fact is that sometimes people accumulate too much reality and then the most practical skill you can have is the ability to lie to yourself and believe it. Let's be twenty. We just met, I'm dazed with pure innocent passion, you're my New World, you're my e=mc2, you're the moon under my feet --- there was never anything before you anything like this, what do you say?

SS: Sounds good. When do we go? Have you told our cousins about this? (PHONE RINGS.)

(PAUSE)

(PHONE RINGS AGAIN)

SS: Aren't you going to answer it?

(PHONE RINGS)

GK: They can leave a message.

SS: They?

GK: Whoever.

(PHONE RINGS)

O Western wind, when wilt thou blow
That the small rains down shall rain.
O that my love were in my arms
And I in my bed again.

© 1996 Garrison Keillor

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).

Available now»

American Public Media © |   Terms and Conditions   |   Privacy Policy