A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor

Lives of the Cowboys script
Saturday, June 11, 2005


Sue Scott: THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS....brought to you by Trailblazer Table Napkins......if a pioneer family or the schoolmarm should happen to drop in at your campsite, you don't want to be caught with grease dribbling down your chin — always keep Trailblazer table napkins on hand (SMOOSH OF GREASE)....also useful as hankies (BIG HONK) and now, here's today's exciting adventure.....


Garrison Keillor: Nice little coffee shop here in Akron, Dusty. Peloponnesus Coffee. We must be near a college or something.

Tim Russell: Can't wait to get out of the Midwest. Too dang many people. Time to head west, hit the trail.

GK: Well, that shopping mall in Cuyahoga Falls paid us good money to appear at their grand opening.....

TR: Riding a horse around a parking lot and roping shopping carts in front of thousands of wretched children throwing corn dogs at us— it was a dark episode in my life, pardner.

GK: Well, it paid well, and that's what counts.

TR: The shame of doing dumb things and people standing around watching you do them.

GK: Well, that's what show business is, Dusty. It's got nothing to do with dignity, that's for sure.

SS (WAITRESS): So what can I do for you, boys? You want coffee?

TR: I'd like one of them lady coffees—

SS (WAITRESS): You mean the latte?

TR: Right.

GK: I'll have one of those too.

SS (WAITRESS): You want the proportional, the plentiful, or the prodigious?

TR: How about large?

SS (WAITRESS): That's the prodigious. Any flavorings?

TR: I'd like mine coffee-flavored.

GK: Same here.

SS (WAITRESS): Those for here or to go?

TR: Here.

SS (WAITRESS): Okay. Be right back. (FEW FOOTSTEPS) —Two big honkers!

Fred Newman (OFF): Two honkers! (ESPRESSO SEQUENCE STARTS)

SS (WAITRESS): What can I bring you for breakfast, boys?

GK: Sort of trying to choose between the Herculean and the Amazonian.....

SS (WAITRESS): Well, they're both steak and eggs and hash browns but the Amazonian comes with a corsage.

GK: I'll take the Herculean.

TR: Same for me.

SS (WAITRESS): Thank you......(SHOUTS) Two pigs in the gutter!

TR: So— we leavin' right after breakfast?

GK: Well— I was thinking of stopping by Kinko's and faxing a couple of these songs off to that music publisher in Chicago.

TR: Oh for pity's sake.

GK: Just because he didn't go for those songs doesn't mean he might not like one of these. (HE STRUMS)

TR (SOTTO VOCE): Put that guitar down! People are turning this way and looking at you!

GK: That's the whole point of it, Dusty. To get them to look at you. (HE STRUMS)

Riding cross the prairie
In the month of June
I stopped into a coffeeshop one morn.
The smell of good strong java and the fresh croissants
I like them though they sure are forn.

I sat and drank my coffee
As the waitress brought my eggs
I was hungry so I hoped twould not be long
And as I was waiting
I glanced at my guitar
And thought that I would write a song.

TR: That is the dumbest song I ever heard in my life and I am over fifty years old, Lefty.

GK: It needs some work— I admit that—

TR: It's stupid. I never heard one as — yechhhhh — put the guitar down—

GK: I'm not done, Lefty. (STRUMS)

TR: I may move to a different booth.

GK: Sitting drinking coffee
And looking at the sky
I sometimes wonder what life's all about—
What could be the purpose
Of the suffering and strife?
And is there a God? Frankly, I doubt
That there is, though some philosophers say yes.
An idea that some others may denounce.
But I just say there's nothing like a couple nice poached eggs
With steak and toast and good hash browns.

FN: Hey! Which one of you ordered the Amazon breakfast?

GK: We ordered the Herculean.

FN: Order says, one Amazon, one Herculean. (HE CLEARS THROAT AND SPITS......)

TR: You can give the Amazon to my pardner here.

FN: You're his partner?

TR: Not in that sense.

FN: Oh.

TR: Pardner. With a "d".

FN: Right. Gotcha. Here's your eggs. Hey— you look like you're writing a song— you a songwriter?

GK: I am, yes.

FN: Well, ain't that a coincidence. So'm I. Just wrote a song called "I'm In Your Car Pool and I'm a Fool For You" — want me to sing some of that?

TR: No, thanks.

FN: I got another one called "All My Troubles"— (HE SINGS)

All my troubles
Some are old and some are new.
But in the middle of trouble
Is U.

GK: Interesting.

FN: "In the middle of trouble is U" — get it?

GK: Got it.

FN: "Trouble" is spelled "t-r-o-U-b-l-e" — seven letters and U is the middle letter.

GK: Very clever idea.

FN: Want me to sing you the rest of it?

TR: (REVOLVER, COCK HAMMER, AND SPIN CYLINDER) You see what's in my hand, mister?

FN: Looks like Mr. Samuel Colt.


SS: You got trouble over here, boys?

GK: We're just trying to eat our breakfasts, ma'am.

FN: I was singing them my song, Mary Lou.

SS: You care for more coffee? (POURING) Oh my gosh, he's got a gun!! (BIG SPLOSH OF COFFEE) Oh, I'm sorry!!! I'm sorry!!!

FN: Let me get a sponge—

GK: You just spilled coffee all over my song lyrics, ma'am—

SS: I am terribly sorry— (MOPPING)

GK: The ink is smearing something awful—

SS: Let me mop it up for you—

GK: They're wrecked-both of them—

SS: I'm doing my best—

GK: Well, I wish you wouldn't— you just destroyed weeks of work—

FN: Here, I got a sponge—

GK: Get away with that.

FN: What's wrong??

GK: My song lyrics— they're destroyed.

TR: Which ones were they?

GK: The one about "When we've gotten in the corn and beans, I will show what romance means" — and the one that goes "Lord In Heaven, I sure hate to trouble you but I wouldn't mind a new BMW" —

SS: Well, you made a copy of it, didn't you?

GK: I just wrote it.

FN: You can rewrite it— just think of the lines—

GK: I'm trying—

SS: It's all in your head. All you have to do is concentrate.

FN: Right.

TR: I heard that Johnny Cash — he lost "Ring of Fire" in a campfire and then he sat down and rewrote it on the back of an envelope and it came out better — the original was about curtain rings —

FN: Lots of writers have lost material—

GK: I'm trying to think— Shut up.

FN: Roy Orbison— same thing happened to him, with "Crying" — lost the whole song when his girlfriend spilled battery acid on it — the original version was called "Trying" — he rewrote the whole thing as "Crying" — you know that song—

GK: Would you both just shut up? I'm trying to think of my song about — I can't even remember what it's about—

SS: Heard a similar story about "Great Balls of Fire" — Jerry Lee Lewis—

GK: Could I have some peace and quiet?

SS: Somebody flushed it down a toilet. So they sat down and rewrote it. Did a better version. The original was called "Heavens To Betsy" —

GK: I'm going outside. Excuse me. (FOOTSTEPS, THEN STOP) Hey. Where's the horses?

FN: What horses?

SS: Were those your horses?

GK: The sorrel and the gray—

SS: I'm sorry. Sheriff came and got em. There's no parking on that side of the street on alternate Saturdays except from 8:45 to 3:15.

GK: Oh for mercy sakes— (FOOTSTEPS RETURN, HE SITS)

TR: Finish your breakfast. We'll deal with it later.

GK: They destroy your songs.......they steal your horses— (WOOD CRUNCH, SCRONGGG OF STRINGS)

FN: Sorry— didn't see your guitar there. —- Sorry. —-- Mind if I sit down?

GK: You are sitting. You're sitting on my guitar.

FN: Very sorry. I'm just excited. We don't get to meet many cowboys in Ohio. I'm curious— you cowboys use your pistols a lot?

GK: Not as often as we'd like.

TR: Sometimes when we're drunk, we'll shoot em at the Milky Way, or what looks to us to be the Milky Way. Otherwise, no.

FN: How about e-mail? You have Internet connections out there on the trail?

GK: No, we don't.

FN: How about the food? —

TR: It's wretched.

FN: How come you do it?

GK: You want to know why we stay out on the lonesome windy dustblown forsaken prairie?

FN: Why do you?

GK: Nobody ever spilled on me out there. That's why.

TR: His horse stepped on him. He's stepped in various stuff. It's rained on him. Snowed on him. Hailed. Sometimes boulders fell on him. Once a cougar jumped on him. But nobody ever spilled on him.

SS: Excuse me— sir— you got the Amazon breakfast and we forgot to give you the corsage. — Here it is. — I take it from the look in your eye you'd prefer not to have it. — Okay, how about I put it here on the table beside you? — No? — Okay. Have a good day.

GK: Go get the horses, Dusty. I'll settle the check.

TR: Don't hurt anybody, pardner.

GK: I won't. I'll just sit here and grit my teeth.

SS: How about more coffee??

GK: No thanks. (STRUM BLUE CHORD) Ah. Guitar isn't broken. Just bent.


Trouble in mind, and I'm blue
But I won't be blue always.
I'm gonna be in Wyoming one of these days.

People confuse me.
And sometimes they drive me insane.
But I'll be fine just as soon as I hit the plains.


SS: THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS......brought to you by La Casa Grande Brand Placemats for the Trail. Why set your grub down in the dirt when you can use a handsome place mat from La Casa Grande? Your choice of six patterns: Vermont Covered Bridge, Manhattan At Night, Tropical Fish, Butterflies, Presidents of the United States, or Miss Gwendolyn Savage of Las Vegas, Nevada. (WHINNY) (MUSIC OUT)

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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