Erie
Saturday, January 24, 2004
Listen

(MUSIC)

GK: Why are you doing the show in Erie, Pennsylvania, people asked me and it's because I had a dream, I was on a plane and when you're on a plane in a dream, you know it's going to crash, and sure enough (PLANE SHAKING, GLASSWARE SHAKING, CRIES OF TERROR, WHOOPING ALARM) the plane started to shake and the flight attendant came on the P.A.

SS (ON P.A.): In the unlikely event of an ice landing, your seat cushion may be used as a sled. Grasp it firmly with both hands and sit on it.

(PLANE IN DIVE) And we landed on this enormous lake (LONG SCRAPING SOUND) which of course was Lake Erie, which was frozen and we skidded for a couple miles and (SCREECHING SOUND, METAL STRESS, FADING) and we saw an island with a lighthouse (FOGHORN) and we walked to it and the door opened (BIG DOOR CREAKING) and there was an old blind man (TR) and he said

TR (OBM): Come in and stand by the fire!

So we did. (BLAZING FIRE) There was a big fire in the fireplace and we made beds on the floor and we stayed up and had a party (LAUGHTER, HUBBUB) and we sang songs about Erie----

TRIO:
ERIE PENNSYLVANIA ERIE PENNSYLVANIA ERIE PENNSYLVANIA LET ME SAY IT ONCE AGAIN
ERIE PENNSYLVANIA ERIE PENNSYLVANIA ERIE PENNSYLVANIA THAT'S THE TOWN THAT KNEW ME WHEN
IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR A LOGICAL EXPLANATION
HOW I HAPPENED ON THIS ELEGANT SYNCOPATION
I WILL SAY WITHOUT A MOMENT OF HESITATION

TR: THERE IS JUST ONE PLACE THAT CAN LIGHT MY FACE

ERIE PENNSYLVANIA ERIE PENNSYLVANIA NOT LOUISIANA PARIS FRANCE NEW YORK OR ROME BUT ERIE PENNSYLVANIA ERIE PENNSYLVANIA ERIE PENNSYLVANIA MY HOME SWEET HOME

(LAUGHTER AND HUBBUB AND FADE, BRIDGE)

And after the party, the blind man said to me----

TR: Your voice is somewhat familiar to me. Isn't that your voice in the airport that says, "You are coming to the end of the moving sidewalk"?

GK: It's not.

TR: How about "I'm sorry but your call cannot be completed as dialed"? that's you, isn't it?

GK: No, actually I'm in radio.

TR: You're kidding.

GK: I'm in radio.

TR: That can't be. You don't sound right for radio. You sound more like somebody who calls up and asks if I'm satisfied with my long-distance phone service.

GK: I do a radio show called "The Grassland Residential Accompanist".

TR: Never heard of it.

SS: Hi.

TR: Oh---- this is my daughter. This is a man who was on the plane that landed on the ice sending all the passengers skidding on their seat cushions.

SS: Oh. Cool.

GK: She was tall and blonde and she wore a little crimson bikini that probably her dad wouldn't have allowed if he could see it.

SS: Welcome to Erie.

GK: Thanks.

SS: You look so familiar. Aren't you the guy who does those cranky little essays on TV where he complains about the Internet and cellphones and all?

GK: Not me.

SS: He's about your age and he has big bushy eyebrows like yours and he goes like, "I don't know what's going on with these kids going around with headphones on" ---- you know? "I don't know what's going on with the post office when you have to buy stamps out of a machine instead of from somebody named Evelyn----"

GK: I love vending machines. I listen on headphones wherever I go.

SS: You're part of that Greatest Generation, aren't you?

GK: No. The Greatest Generation was the one that fought the Good War, and built the Interstate System and sent a rocket to the moon and created all those suburbs with curvy streets named Woodcrest and River Hills and Meadowbrook…I'm from the Drug Crazed Generation that danced to strobe lights and wore clothes with paint splotches and wore hair down to our butt and we were into killer weed and acid and now we're into weed killer and acid reflux but we're still hip, right?

SS: Oh. So you're not him.

GK: No, I'm in radio. I do a show called "The Lowlands Habitat Cohort".

SS: Oh. That's odd. You don't sound like a radio person at all. My dad was in radio.

TR (OBM): That's right. I did the play-by-play for the Cleveland Indians for years. Got this trophy for it too. (TR EFFORT)

And he reached up to the mantle to get this enormous ugly chunk of Lucite and (TR ALARM) he dropped it on my head (KONK) (GLISS)---- and suddenly I had a flashback, a recovered memory from childhood---- (CARNIVAL SOUNDS, RIDES) I was at the Great Erie Steam Exposition of 1948 where great locomotives were on display (STEAM ENGINE) and giant waterbirds (BIRD SCREECHES) and a re-enactment of the defeat of the British Navy (CANNONFIRE) and in my wonderment I wandered away from my parents and got lost----

TR (KID): Mom??? Dad????

GK: And a Salvation Army lady found me----

SS: Here you go, sonny----

GK: And took me to an Army camp where we had Scripture Drill and after thirty days I was turned over to the Salvation Army Surplus and sold at auction--- (CROWD)

TR: (ON CHEAP P.A.) Okay I got a six-year-old kid here, comes with glasses, shoes, a woven leather lanyard, teeth are good ---- let's start the bidding at fifteen dollars ---- do I hear fifteen? ----- fifteen dollars---- who's got $15 for a a good looking kid? (FADE, BRIDGE)

GK: I went for $40 but he had to work pretty hard to get it and the people who bought me were fundamentalists and they took me to Minnesota and they were fine people, but when this Lucite hit me on the head (KONK) ---- it was the first time I remembered my true parents----

TR: FRENCH

SS: RESPONDING TO HIS FRENCH PHRASES WITH SOFT SHORT FRENCH REPLIES

GK: They were French circus performers. They did a high-wire act. They had just come from Niagara Falls where the three of us crossed, Mon Pere with the balancing bar, and Ma Mere on his shoulders and me, Un Petit Garcon, on her shoulders, and at Erie we had walked the high-wire from a ship offshore to the top of a high tower in the city ----

SS: Courage, mon petit Garcon. We're perfectly safe. Daddy has never fallen. Never.

GK: I'm scared. It's so far down.

SS: We never think "down". We think across. Never 'down'. Only think ACROSS. Allons! Onward!

TR: (BARKER ON PA)---- And now I direct your attention to the high-wire---- and the Fabulous Mon Chere Family! (CROWD ROAR, DRUM ROLL, BRIDGE)

GK: And I looked toward that tower as Daddy walked the tight wire (TR FRENCH QUIET DETERMINATION: liberte, fraternite, egalite, etc.) and there was the city of Erie and nothing looked so beautiful to me as its buildings, its houses, its streets, its people ---- when you're on your mother's shoulders, who is standing on your father's shoulders, who is walking a wire over the waves, Erie is the most beautiful place in the world, and I'll never forget the song I heard when I finally got to shore.

Let's head for Erie, Katie O'Leary,
Oh how my heart is weary for Erie PA.
Dance the Malaguena in Pennsylvania
And I'll obtain ya a wedding bouquet.
I don't want Pittsburgh, Philly, Allentown, or Scranton-Wilkes-Barre
Want to marry Miss O'Leary, January gotta hurry
Wallace Beery
Lives in Erie and seriously so will we
In E-R-I-E
My little dearie and me.

Good to be here.


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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