The Lives of the Cowboys
Saturday, April 3, 1999
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(GK: Garrison Keillor, SS: Sue Scott, TK: Tom Keith, TR: Tim Russell)

(WESTERN THEME)

 

SS: THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS ... brought to you by Trailblazer Table Napkins ... use 'em as napkins (SMOOSH OF GREASE) ... as hankies (NOSE HONK) ... or use 'em to flag down the train (CHUGGA CHUGGA, SLOWING, BRAKES) and now, for Trailblazer, here's today's exciting adventure ... (OUTDOOR AMBIENCE. NIGHT. HORSE HOOVES AS DUSTY AND LEFTY RIDE INTO TOWN.)

TR: Dagnab it to tarnation and blazes, doggone the goldarn luck. Drat!

GK: Take it easy -

TR: Take it easy!!! We lose five-hundred goldarn head of dagnabbed longhorn cattle out in the middle of the doggone prairie and I'm supposed to take it easy????

GK: We'll find 'em tomorrow.

TR: How could we do such a stupid thing?

GK: Well, if you're ridin' ahead of the herd, you gotta take a look back every now and then to make sure they're still with ya.

TR: Perfectly clear day in the flattest part of Wyoming and we lose 500 goldarned cattle!!

GK: Whoa. Whoa. (HORSES WHINNY, STOP, CHUFF. DUSTY AND LEFTY DISMOUNT. WALK TO HITCHING RAIL. TIE UP THE HORSES) Easy, there. Easy. (WHINNY) Wonder if there's a spa in this town. We could take our spring baths, Dusty.

TR: (GRUNTS) You take a bath, it only attracts the wrong kinda women. Women interested in working on relationships. Me, I prefer brief but intense friendships with dance hall floozies. And not bathing makes it a whole lot easier to say goodbye in the morning.

GK: I kinda miss having a social life.

TR: What you want that for?

GK: I want a woman I can talk with.

TR: About what?

GK: Anything I want to.

TR: Such as what, for example?

GK: Things. Personal things.

TR: Name one.

GK: I'd rather not.

TR: Name one thing you can talk to a woman about that you can't talk to me about. Name one.

GK: Beauty.

TR: Beauty! Ha! (HE HAWKS AND SPITS) You're getting soft in the head, pardner. I swear, I think you maybe drank downstream of the herd a few times too many. Made you loco.

GK: It isn't crazy to have a little sensitivity.

TR: Sensitivity! Ha! (HE HAWKS AND SPITS) I remember that time you squatted down by the campfire and sat on your spurs. Boy, you showed some sensitivity then! (HE CHUCKLES)

GK: I won't even dignify that with a response.

TR: (READING SIGN) The Yellow Dog Saloon. Let's go in, what do you say?

GK: You go ahead, I'll just walk out on the prairie and gaze up at the stars.

TR: C'mon, don't be a party poop.

GK: I'm not.

TR: Just come in for ten minutes. If it's no fun, then okay -

GK: This goes against my good judgement, Dusty -

TR: Good judgment comes from experience, Lefty, and all the really useful experiences come from bad judgment.

GK: I don't know about this - (DOOR CREAKS OPEN. PIANO, "CAMPTOWN RACES". PARTY MILIEU. FOOTSTEPS AS THEY WALK TO THE BAR AND SIT DOWN.) This is a rough crowd, Dusty. Bunch of one-eyed men and I smell some sheepherders.

SS: Howdy, boys. What can I bring you?

TR: Bring us a whiskey bottle and two glasses, ma'am.

SS: Okay.

GK: Just one glass, ma'am. I'd prefer a juice drink - you make smoothies?

SS: Tell me what's in it, I'll make it.

GK: How about orange juice, ginseng, a pinch of yeast, and some squeezed peaches? (MUSIC STOPS, ROOM IS STILL) (FOOTSTEPS APPROACH SLOWLY AND STOP)

TK: Somebody here make a reference to squeezing Peaches?

SS: He did, Big Messer.

TK: You referred to squeezing Peaches?

GK: I did. Yes.

TK: Peaches is my girlfriend.

GK: That's nice, but I wasn't talking about her, I was talking about fruit -

TK: You sure?

GK: Of course I'm sure.

TK: What you talking about fruit in a saloon for?

SS: He ordered a fruit drink, Big Messer.

TK: Is that right? A fruit drink? YOU ORDERED A FRUIT DRINK? (RUNNING FOOTSTEPS APPROACH) What is it?

TR (LITTLE GUY): Run for your life! Big John is on his way to town! (CROWD REACT, FEAR)

TK: Big John??

TR (LITTLE GUY): They seen him. He's on his way to town!! (RUNNING FOOTSTEPS AND DIVE THROUGH WINDOW)

TK: Let me out of here!! (RUNNING) (MORE HYSTERIA, SHOUTS IN DISTANCE)

TR: I'm getting out of here, Lefty -

GK: You go ahead. I want to have this fruit drink.

TR: (OFF) See you later, pardner.(RUNNING, DOOR OPEN, CLOSE)

SS: You ain't never met Big John before, mister?

GK: Can't say that I have.

SS: Big John is the biggest, meanest, roughest, toughest hombre there is in these parts, that's all. He rides a Brahma bull bareback and uses a rattlesnake for a whip and he'd just as soon bounce a chair off your noggin as look at you.

GK: Izzat right?

SS: His daddy used to be the roughest, toughest, and then one day Big John beat up his daddy.

GK: Interesting. So - you think you can find some orange juice and peaches and ginseng and yeast?

SS: (SHE GIVES HIM A LOOK) You're not like other cowboys, are you.

GK: I wouldn't know. I just know what I like.

SS: Most cowboys just want to get drunk, have sex, fall asleep, have a steak for breakfast, win a thousand dollars at cards, beat somebody up, and then repeat the cycle.

GK: I have gradually gotten over all that and now I am primarily interested in seeking out beauty, ma'am.

SS: (SHE GIVES HIM A LOOK) Huh?

GK: There is in art and music and literature a spiritual power that can get a person through the ugliest times. You wouldn't happen to have a guitar on the premises, would you?

SS: Got one behind the counter here. Here you go - (BUMP OF GUITAR BEING HANDED OVER)

GK: Thanks. Nice guitar.

SS: It was left here by a fellow by the name of Lonesome Leo Kottke.

GK: Is that right?

SS: He got discouraged with his music and decided to switch to writing novels instead.

GK: (STRUM, OUT OF TUNE) Well, I can see why. (HE TUNES, APPROXIMATELY) It was out of tune. (TUNES) That'd discourage anybody. (STRUMS)

 

When it's springtime on the prairie,
I'll be coming home to you.
My dear Miss North Dakota,
With your bonnie eyes of blue.... (OFF KEY)
Darn.
(STRUMS)
Once again I'll say I love you,
While the birds sing all the day,
When it's springtime on the prairie -
(TR ROAR, OFF, AND GLASS BREAKAGE.)

 

SS: This could be him! (WOOD BREAKAGE. DOOR IS RIPPED OFF FLUNG AND FLUNG ASIDE. CHICKEN FLURRY. TR ROAR. STOMPS.)

TR (THUG): Okay, here I am, time to fall on your knees and weep for mercy. Death and desolation have arrived. (HE HOWLS) I can whip any man alive, no matter how large - outrun him, outpunch him, and if necessary outstink him. I have the worst breath of any man or beast - breath that can gag a goat and knock a buzzard off the garbage truck. And when I pass gas, there is no protection against it. Silent Death; kills people and leaves the houses standing.

SS: What do you want from us?

TR: I want to see you cower trembling with fear and begging for mercy. I want to see you weep and whimper and tug at my pants leg.

GK: And what if we don't feel like it?

TR: What do you mean, what if you don't feel like it? You just wait til I let a good one. (HE HOLDS BREATH.) Darn. Musta been the wrong brand of beans.

SS: You're not Big John, are you -

TR: (TERRIFIED) Big John?? Did you say Big John????

SS: He's on his way here right now.

TR (TERRIFIED): Big John is coming here???? Oh no. (HE FARTS)

GK: That was nothing, mister. I've known Sunday School teachers who let a bigger one than that. You better skedaddle before Big John comes. (TR PANIC, RUNS AWAY).

SS: What'd you say you wanted? orange juice, ginseng, peaches, and yeast?

GK: That's right.

SS: What kind of a drink is that?

GK: It's good. It cures depression and improves your brainpower and -

GK: (STRUMS)

 

When it's springtime on the prairie,
I'll be coming home to you.
My sweetheart of the stockyards
With your bonnie eyes of blue ... (OFF KEY)
Darn.
(STRUMS)
Once again I'll say I love you,
While the birds sing all the day,
When it's springtime on the prairie -
(TR, OFF, HOWLING. FOOTSTEPS.)

 

GK: Who are you?

TR (VAMPIRE): I am the Prince of Darkness, the Evil One, I roam the world, forever restless, and no mortal can resist.

GK: Hey -

TR (VAMPIRE): What?

GK: Did you know Big John is coming?

TR (VAMPIRE): No! No! Not Big John! Aiiiieeeeeee! (FLAPS WINGS, FLIES AWAY)

SS: What do you with these peaches? You put 'em in a blender?

GK: Yeah. And then strain em.

(BLENDER)

SS: Smells good, doesn't it -

GK: Yeah.

 

(STRUMS)
When it's springtime on the prairie,
I'll be coming home to you.
My dear Miss North Dakota
With your bonnie eyes of blue.... (OFF KEY)
Darn.
(STRUMS)
Once again I'll say I love you,
While the birds sing all the day,
When it's springtime on the prairie -
(FOOTSTEPS APPROACH AND STOP)

 

GK: Hi.

TR (ORDINARY GUY): Hi.

GK: How are you?

TR: Fine. Didn't mean to interrupt your song.

GK: That's okay.

TR: What's that I smell? peaches?

GK: Yeah.

TR: Nice.

GK: Yeah.

TR: You from here?

GK: Huh uh.

TR: Neither am I.

GK: You wouldn't happen to be Big John, would you?

TR: Yeah, I am.

GK: You're not like what I expected.

TR: No.

GK: Everybody here is scared to death of you.

TR: I know.

GK: How come?

TR: Publicity.

GK: Publicity -

TR: Right.

SS (APPROACHING): Okay. Here's your drink - oh. Hi.

TR: Hi. Smells nice.

GK: This is Big John.

SS: Oh.

TR: I love peaches and orange juice.

SS: You want one?

TR: Sure.

SS: Okay. (FOOTSTEPS AWAY)

TR: Looks like spring.

GK: Yeah.

TR: They say it should be nice for the weekend.

GK: That's what they say.

TR: I rode over from Cody.

GK: Uh huh.

TR: You could see sagebrush blooming.

GK: Uh huh.

TR: Birds singing.

GK: Right.

TR: Smell grass growing.

GK: I suppose.

TR: Hear cattle lowing.

GK: Uh huh.

TR: About five hundred head.

GK: Really.

TR: Just west of town.

GK: Uh huh.

TR: Yours?

GK: Yeah. Reckon.

 

(STRUMS)
When it's springtime on the prairie,
I'll be coming home to you.
My sweetheart of the stockyards,
With your bonnie eyes of blue.... (HITS RIGHT CHORD)
All right.
(STRUMS)
Once again I'll say I love you,
While the birds sing all the day,
When it's springtime on the prairie,
On the prairie faraway.
Yodeladi-yodeladi-aye-o.
TR: Not bad.

 

GK: Thanks.

TR: It's no Leo Kottke, but it's not bad.

GK: So what line of work you in, Big John?

TR: I'm a lawyer.

GK: Ahhh. Of course.

TR: I'm about ready to retire, though.

GK: Oh?

TR: Yeah.

GK: And do what?

TR: Enjoy life.

GK: Is that right?

TR: Yeah.

GK: Well, there's a lot of it out there to enjoy. (THEME)

SS: THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS ... brought to you by La Casa Grande Brand Placemats for the Trail. Don't set your grub down in the dirt - use one of these handsome place mats from La Casa Grande? Your choice of six patterns: Woodland Scenes, Noted Composers, Tropical Birds, Great Volcanoes of the World, Members of the Supreme Court, or Miss Peaches Savage of Casper, Wyoming. (WHINNY) (MUSIC OUT)

(c) 1999 by 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).

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