Gershwin
Saturday, March 9, 2002
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(GK: Garrison Keillor; SS: Sue Scott: TR: Tim Russell, TK:Tom Keith; RD: Rich Dworsky)

(GERSHWIN "LOVE WALKED IN," PIANO)

SS: I love Gershwin, don't you?

GK: Mmhmm.

SS: "Someone to Watch Over Me." I love that song.

GK: Mmhmm.

SS: It is so New York.

GK: Actually it's "Love Walked In." Gershwin, but a different tune.

SS: Oh. It just makes me think of being in some dim little bar, in New York, with the pianist in the back corner, playing Gershwin.

GK: Right.

SS: It's one in the morning, and you're in New York, and you're crazy in love, and the pianist is playing Gershwin.

GK: You're thinking about that time we were in New York?

SS: Yes.


GK: That little bar in the West 60s. We stayed at that terrible hotel with the cockroaches and we couldn't sleep and we went for a walk and the city was glittering with light, and we went in that bar, and it was empty, except for us and the bartender and the pianist with black horn rims and a bad toupee and we sat down at the bar and ordered a couple glasses of white wine and there back in the shadows was Robert De Niro. Remember?

SS: I don't remember any of that.

GK: Sure you do.

SS: Robert De Niro?

GK: Sitting back in the corner, wearing a tan raincoat. We both recognized him right away.

SS: I wasn't there. You must've been with someone else.

GK: I was there with you. It was the time we went to New York and saw "Chorus Line."

SS: I never saw "Chorus Line."

GK: Sure you did. You didn't?

SS: Must've been your first wife. ---- I'm Joanne, remember?

GK: (SIGH) Sorry. I don't know where that came from. Maybe it was a dream.

SS: Didn't know you were still dreaming about her---

GK: I'm not. Never mind. Sorry.

SS: The time in New York when I was there with you, not some other woman, was when we stayed at my friend Bob's apartment in Hell's Kitchen and went to the film festival at Lincoln Center and saw "Singin in the Rain" ---- and we went walking and walked all the way downtown and over the Brooklyn Bridge to Brooklyn Heights and the promenade and went into that little bar with about a thousand black-and-white photographs of famous people, most of whom nobody ever heard of, and it was empty except for the bartender and the pianist who was playing Gershwin. And you put your hand in mine and you said, "If it were up to me, I'd marry you tomorrow down by the sea." Remember?

GK: And Robert De Niro was there?

SS: No. Just us.

GK: Photographs on the walls?

SS: Thousands of them. You had a Manhattan.

GK: I've never had a Manhattan in my life.

SS: Of course you did.

GK: I wasn't there.

SS: You were. You said, "If it were up to me, I'd marry you tomorrow down by the sea."

GK: I would never say "by the sea" when I meant the ocean.

SS: But you did.

GK: You must've talked to somebody else about getting married. Maybe the bartender.

SS: It was you.

GK: Maybe you were with your friend Bob.

SS: You don't remember that bar? The walk to Brooklyn?

GK: Nope.

SS: "Singin In The Rain"? Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds-----

GK: I've never seen it.

SS: He's dancing through the puddles----

GK: Never saw it.

SS: (SINGS) "I'm singin in the rain, just singin in the rain, what a glorious feeling, I'm happy again."

GK: Never saw it.

SS: Incredible. (TWO BEATS) Do I know you?

GK: Yes. We're married. You're the mother of my children.

SS: I thought so. (AROUND HERE, THE MUSIC CHANGES TO A 60S BALLAD)


GK: That reminds me of that birthday party ----- whose was it? Was it Juliet's? Or Hugo's? It was Juliet's. We were sitting at that little table on those little tiny chairs with our knees up around our chins and we were eating cupcakes with chocolate frosting and melted wax and drinking raspberry Kool-Aid and that bad clown was there that we'd hired, the one who didn't know any magic tricks and could only make two balloon animals, a worm and a caterpillar---- remember?

SS: The one who just jumped around and yelled, Ho ho ho.

GK: Right. And it was getting late and the other kids' mothers were trying to hurry the kids along and get coats out and Juliet didn't want her party to end, and she grabbed a book, one of her gifts, a songbook, and she started singing the first song, which was "Alouette," which she didn't know but she made up a tune and it sounded so much like Gershwin. It was so beautiful. She sang it so slowly, "Alouette," trying to make the moment last. I remember she sang, "gentille Alouette" as "Gentile Alouette."

SS: And the clown was standing around waiting to get paid and the mothers were fit to be tied and ----

GK: She was six. Our kid. She sounded like Gershwin. You know? Trying to make the moment a little longer. ----- What's wrong?

SS: Nothing. Just thought I heard somebody coughing.

GK: What's this song?

SS: Have no idea.

GK: You and Bob never listened to this in some bar?

SS: I'm not even going to dignify that with a response.

GK: You were thinking about marrying him? You always talked about how stupid he is.

SS: Yes. And so what?

GK: What does that mean?

SS: Who did you see "Chorus Line" with?

GK: Are you sure we didn't see it?

SS: Positive.

GK: Well, it's not like it was my favorite musical. ----

SS: You're kidding about not remembering the bar in Brooklyn and saying you'd marry me by the sea. Right? You're trying to get a rise out of me.

GK: Don't worry about it.

SS: I'm just asking.

GK: It's not important.

SS: I'm not saying it's important.

GK: I just remember that little girl who sang a song she didn't even know so she could make her birthday party last longer.

SS: I'm going to sleep.

GK: Sweet dreams.

SS: Good night.

GK: (PAUSE) I think it was Robert De Niro. Maybe it was Peter Nero.

SS: Good night.

© Garrison Keillor 2002

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

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