Radio Script
Saturday, April 9, 2005
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(COWS)

Garrison Keillor: I grew up, as many of you know, in a sod hut near Williston, N.D., where we raised chickens (SFX) and pigs (SFX) and lived in filth and squalor (FOOTSTEPS IN DEEP MUD) because my dad, who was from Goteborg (TR SWEDISH), was too busy reading Marx and Engels to look after the farm — he believed that at any moment the farmers and the laborers would rise up and seize the means of production (TR SWEDISH SHOUT OF REVOLUTION) though there was not much sign of this whatsoever — and so life was hard for us, and the only bright and happy thing in our lives was the Philco radio receiver on the kitchen table and the radio shows that came to us in the evening from New York— (NIGHTHAWKS THEME)

Tim Russell (ANNC): From New York! — just off Times Square, the Crossroads of the World, it's time for Town Hall Tonight.......with Vince Giordano and his Nighthawks— brought to you by Ipana, the toothpaste preferred by nine out of ten entertainers........

GK: When you spend your day with pigs and chickens, slopping around in the mire, hauling water and feed, high-class entertainment means so much more to you than if you'd been in an office all day — it just does — and there was Daddy grousing about high interest rates (TR SWEDISH) and Wall Street's conspiracy against the working man, and I just sat there looking deep into my Philco and imagining scenes of splendor in New York City.

(NIGHTHAWKS THEME)

TR: From New York, it's Broadway Bandstand with Vince Giordano and his Nighthawks — twice-winner of the Best Dressed Bandleader Award — brought to you by Luxana, the tanning cream that gives you a deep and even tan even in winter — and now here's the dashing Vince Giordano to sing you Irving Berlin's latest hit, "I Know That You Know That I'm Nobody Now" —

GK: We lived for that show. We struggled through the mud and the slime (FOOTSTEPS IN MUD, PIG, CHICKENS) and did our chores, knowing that after the sun went down, we'd be transported to New York and the life of elegance and privilege enjoyed by the handsome bandleader and his musician friends. We sat out in our sod hut, water dripping through the ceiling, and we thrilled to the sound of his voice.

Vince Giordano: So many of you kids have written in to ask how you can become musicians like me and start your own band — So, for you, I've written Vince Giordano Handbook of Jazz — now it can be yours and along with it, the Nighthawks Decoder Ring — just hold up your finger when the band starts to play and the Decoder Ring tells you what key they're in. . Just send 35 cents in coin — no stamps, please —(FADING) to Box 1803, Ansonia Station, New York 11, New York. .

GK: Daddy hated Vince because he saw a picture of Vince in a tux (SWEDISH IRRITATION) and so he concluded that Vince was a capitalist and that he oppressed his employees and was cheating the kids with his Handbook of Jazz and the Decoder Ring. So he forbade us to listen (SWEDISH COMMAND, DOOR SLAM) but we took the radio out to the barn and listened to it there (COWS) —

VG: And I want all you kids to remember — you can't be a top musician if your teeth are dull and yellowish, so be sure to brush after every meal with Ipana toothpaste, and now let's play you a tune that Mr. Johnny Mercer wrote for me and the boys, a tune called "Hawks in the Night" (TUNE STARTS AND FADES) .........

GK: There he was with his nice tux and his white teeth living a life of wealth and glamor in Manhattan and here we were, struggling to survive through bad storms (SFX) and tornadoes (SFX) and a disease that wiped out half our chickens (CHICKEN COUGHING) and of course Daddy being a communist didn't help either. (TR SWEDISH) The neighbors surrounded our house on more than one occasion (MOB SHOUTING) and lobbed mud balls at us (SFX) and sicced their dogs on us (VICIOUS DOG SNARL) and put water in our gas tank (CAR TRYING TO START) — it was just one aggravation after another — and through it all, my closest friend was a man I'd never even met. (BAND THEME)

TR: From New York — Bridgeport Brand Bromides, the quick easy solution to stomach acids caused by overindulgence, brings you — STORIES OF THE GREAT WHITE WAY — today, the story of famous bandleader, Mr. Vince Giordano! (BAND FANFARE)

TR: Vince Giordano, the heartthrob of mature women, and the idol of thousands of string-bass players coast to coast — little did he know, growing up in Moorhead, Minnesota, his given name Vern Jorgenson, that someday (FADING) he would make his way to New York City!!!

GK: His name was Vern Jorgenson. He was from Moorhead, Minnesota? (STING) It was as if someone had punched me in the stomach. My hero — he wasn't a New Yorker, as I'd assumed — he was from the Midwest — I listened to the rest of the show with a heavy heart—

VG: Growing up on a farm as I did and working with dairy cattle, you gain certain skills that come in handy as a bandleader. And growing up in the Lutheran church I developed a hunger for excitement and glamor. (BRIDGE)

GK: I was crushed. And so was my dog, Trotsky. (DOG WHINE) We both loved Vince as a glamorous distant figure, a wealthy capitalist, a man in a tux, a sophisticate who knew about wines and how to mix drinks and how to dance the rhumba, and now to discover that he was actually from Minnesota. (DOG MOAN) But that night the mob returned, angrier than ever. (DISTANT MOB) Daddy had written a letter to the newspaper complaining about the phrase "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance recited by us at school, (MOB ANGRY) and in their patriotic fervor, they blew up our barn and silo. (PAUSE, THEN BIG EXPLOSION) (PAUSE, THEN BUBBLING AND GURGLING) And that's how they discovered oil in North Dakota. (TR SWEDISH SURPRISE & WONDER) And we became the wealthiest communists in the country. And because there were more communists in New York than anywhere else, naturally we moved there. We bought a 12-room penthouse apartment overlooking Central Park and on the terrace, to remind us of our roots (COW) , Daddy kept the only Holstein on the Upper West Side — our cow Mao. (MOO) And the first week we were in New York I tuned in a show on the radio.

(BAND THEME)

TR: And now it's The Eileen Dover Show starring "the gal in the know," syndicated gossip columnist Eileen Dover with all the inside dope they don't want you to know about folks in show business—Eileen—

Sue Scott: Thanks, Ben. Here's a juicy morsel just in — New York society bandleader Vincent Giordano pleaded guilty today to a charge of assault — Giordano was accused of shoving Henry Kissinger after the distinguished statesman had repeatedly requested the band to play his favorite song.

TR (KISSINGER): I asked him politely to play "People" — and he said he'd never heard of it. I said, "You know the one. (SINGS) People. People who need people......are the luckiest people in the world." And then he made a remark about my hair and he poked me with his saxophone.

SS: Giordano declined to comment as he left the courthouse, on his way up the river to Sing Sing. (BRIDGE)

GK: And the next Saturday night, Vince and his band were not on the air —-

(VIOLIN & PIANO & HARMONICA)

TR (ANNC): Footlight Favorites.......with Vince Giordano and his Nighthawks.......will not be heard tonight or for the next two to five years. In their place, we bring you Helmut Schlagmeister and the Viennese Happy Hour. (VIOLIN UP AND OUT)

GK: I had our chauffeur drive me up to Sing Sing to bring Mr. Giordano some flowers in gratitude for all his music had meant to me, growing up in North Dakota, and I found him, in a cold grey cell— (BIG STEEL DOOR OPENS)

TR (GUARD): Giordano— you got a visitor. (BIG STEEL DOOR CREAKS SHUT) (TENTATIVE FOOTSTEPS)

GK: Hi, Mr. Giordano. My name is Wyler. Carson Wyler. I'm a huge fan of yours and I wanted you to know that your music was the light of my life at a very dreary time and I just want to thank you.

VG: Thanks. It's sort of dreary time in my life, kid.....

GK: I brought you a bouquet of tulips.

VG: I appreciate the thought, but I'm allergic.

GK: I also brought you some licorice.

VG: Very thoughtful of you, kid, but I hate licorice.

GK: Oh. Okay.

VG: Two years in the pokey, just for poking a German. You gotta get me out of here, kid.

GK: Get you out?

VG: Please.

GK: But how?

VG: Find a way. Bake me a cake with a hacksaw in it. Bring me a white jacket and a stethoscope. — Hey—you got one of my Decoder Rings?

GK: Yes, of course.

VG: You can send messages with it, you know.

GK: What message should I send, Vince?

VG: Tell me you're coming to get me out of here. (STING, BRIDGE)

GK: And then two nights later, I was listening to another show on the radio—

(ORGAN THEME)

TR: They come out of the sky (DIVING AIRPLANES) in their unending quest to bring justice and equality to the world— JACK CASSIDY AND HIS AIR CADET SQUADRON— brought to you by Happy Baked Beans.

GK (SINGS): Happy Baked Beans are nutritious
Help you live the natural way.
Give you lots of natural fiber,
Leave you feeling A-OK.
Just like Jack and His Air Squadron,
When you eat them you will say:
They are nature's fruit and they make you toot
Eat baked beans every day. (ORGAN FADE INTO.....)

TR: And now as we join Jack and the Boys, they're trapped in the old barn on the Slocum place, on the trail of a desperate killer— (OWL)

SS: I think we better get out of here.

GK: We have to find that heinous murderer first. I'm almost certain he's in here. The man who choked those people on big chunks of steak and cheesecake—

SS: The cholesterol killer—

GK: Right. We need to find him, Jane—

SS: What makes you think he's in here?

GK: I can smell his aftershave. (CREAKING, CLICK, OF DOOR CLOSING)

GK: What was that?

SS: The barn door just swung closed and I heard it lock.

GK: That can't be. (ATTEMPTS TO OPEN DOOR, RATTLES LOCK) You're right. Jimmy?

Fred Newman: What, Jack?

GK: Hand me the flashlight.

SS: I'm scared, Jack.

GK: That's because you're a girl. Come and stand behind me and whimper and I'll get us out of this fix.

FN: Oh no. The flashlight won't work. (CLICKING OF SWITCH) The batteries are dead.

SS: We're goners now! We're done for.

GK: Where are the fresh batteries?

FN: We left them in the plane. Out on the grass landing strip. A quarter mile from here. Criminy.

GK: We'll have to send Rex. (DOG PANTING) Rex— you know where the landing strip is? (DOG BARKS) Good. And my plane— the Curtiss Ingham? (BARKS) Search the rear and you'll find the ammo bag and two double-A batteries, Rex? Can you go find them and bring them back? (DOG BARKS) Okay. What kind of batteries? How many A's? (TWO BARKS) Good. Off you go, Rex.

SS: I hear footsteps.

GK: Aww, Jane. You're just hearing things.

SS: That's what I said. I'm hearing things. And they're called footsteps. Someone is putting his feet on the ground in a stealthy fashion.

FN: I don't hear anything.

SS: I hear twigs breaking.

GK: Sometimes twigs just break. It doesn't mean someone is stepping on them.

SS: I'm hearing stepping-type sounds as well as twig breakage.

GK: Where, Jane?

SS: Over that way.

GK: I can't see which way you're pointing. It's dark. (SS YELLS) What's wrong?

SS: Rex just sniffed my butt.

GK: I said, search the rear of the plane, Rex. Not Jane. The plane. (WOOF)

TR (KISSINGER): I wouldn't worry about batteries if I were you.

SS: (WHISPERS) It's him. He's here.

TR (KISSINGER): That was me stepping on that twig. She was right. I stepped on it and it broke. And you know something? I enjoyed stepping on it. I hate twigs. And you— you're like twigs to me. Yes, you are.

GK: And you know something else?

TR (KISSINGER): What?

GK: That wasn't a twig.

TR (KISSINGER): It was too a twig.

GK: It wasn't. It was a trip lever and when you stepped on it, it ignited a fuse that is burning and the end of the fuse is tied to a big bundle of dynamite that is approximately two feet from where you're standing. Hear it? (FUSE BURNING)

TR (KISSINGER): Why you dirty double-crosser— I will stamp out the fuse! (STAMPING) I will stamp out the fuse and then I will stamp out you!!!! (BIG EXPLOSION)

GK: Well, that took care of him. And it also opened the door.

SS: Wow. That was so neat.

GK: Let's head for the planes, Air Cadets. What do you say? Contact! (PLANES REV UP AND TAKE OFF)

(ORGAN THEME UP)

GK: Listening to Jack Cassidy gave me the idea of rescuing Vince from the air — airlift him out of Sing Sing — the Air Cadets rescued people from quicksand and abandoned mineshafts all the time, why not a prison? First, I had to explain things to my father. (TR SWEDISH) I know you never cared for Vince's expensive clothing, Dad, but now he's in prison, arrested for having struck a famous American imperialist. (TR SWEDISH, BRIGHTER, EXCITED) Dad agreed to spend as much money as it took, and a week later (CHOPPER) with the trusty Vladimir at the controls (TR RUSSIAN) the big Sikorsky chopper took off for Sing Sing late one night where by pre-arrangement Vince was standing in the exercise yard, signalling with his Decoder Ring and I signalled back (MORSE CODE BEEPS) and Vladimir brought the chopper down to tree-level (TR RUSSIAN) (CHOPPER LOWERING WINCH) and we dropped a rope and hauled him up and except for the brief gun battle (MACHINE GUNS, RIFLES, MORTARS, ROCKET BARRAGE) that was that. A piece of cake.

VG: Freedom! How can I ever thank you!

GK: We flew to a deserted location in the Poconos (CHOPPER LANDING) and got into a black limo (CAR PULLS AWAY) and raced to Manhattan where, to throw off pursuers (HORSE-DRAWN CAB) we rode a carriage through Central Park and then got on the subway (

FN: Watch for the closing doors. SUBWAY DOORS CLOSE, RUMBLE OF TRAIN) and we rode to Howard Beach and we walked across a field where I had arranged for a long aluminum pole to be left in the weeds. (OUTDOOR NIGHT AMBIENCE)

VG: What's this for?

GK: You ever pole-vault, Mr. Giordano?

VG: Of course not. I went to high school in Brooklyn.

GK: Brooklyn!!! I thought you were from Moorhead.

VG: No. Canarsie High School — Brooklyn. Where's Moorhead?

GK: Minnesota.

VG: Where's that?

GK: But I heard you on the radio talking about farming—

VG: Listen, kid. Not everything you hear on the radio is true, okay? Sometimes people make things up.

GK: Okay, but right now you're going to have to run with that pole and pole-vault over the security fence and that private jet right over there will fly you to Paris. Okay? You'll be safe there.

VG: Paris. Wow. But what about you? You're not coming?

GK: I've got to stay and help my Dad organize the workers. Even though we're wealthy and we own the building, we still have rent strikes. And Dad needs me. He vowed that he wouldn't learn to speak English until the hammer and sickle flies over the capitol and the White House becomes the Red House. So I have to stay here.

VG: Okay.So long—

GK: There's your pilot, Ennui. (TR OFF, FRENCH SHOUTS OF DIRECTION AND CAUTION) He says to come right away......

VG: Okay, pal. Here I go. Thanks for everything. (LONG RUN, SLOWLY, THEN ACCEL, OFF, POLE VAULT)

VG (FAR OFF): I did it!

GK: And he climbed aboard the plane and it took off (JET AIRPLANE) and he went to Paris where he formed a new band, Vincent Gendarme e Hawks a la Noir, and you can hear them on short wave.

(BAND THEME)

TR: (FRENCH ANNC, OPENING OF SHOW......INCL. "VINCENT GENDARME......)

BAND PLAYOFF

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»

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