A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor

Lives of the Cowboys script
Saturday, June 18, 2005


Sue Scott (ANNC): THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS...brought to you by Yipiyodeeay Brand Spurs — they really jingle-jangle-jingle. (MUSIC UNDER, CATTLE, WHOOPING, HORSE WHINNY)

Garrison Keillor: The way it happened was — Dusty and me were driving a herd of cows down to Chicago and we got lost and saw a sign for what we thought was a ravine and it turned out to be an amphitheater for concerts — whoa. Whoa. (HORSES WHINNY, STOP)

Tim Russell: Where are we?

GK: Ravinia, the sign said. No ravine here. Just a whole lot of empty seats and some kind of storage facility down at the bottom.

TR: Nice meadow though — and plenty of water — all we need to do is get the caps off the Evian bottles.

GK: I don't know how we got off the beam.

TR: Well, you're riding along strumming your guitar instead of paying attention to the road—

GK: I thought you were paying attention.

TR: I was trying hard not to listen to your guitar.

GK: Well, music is my life, Dusty. I'd be lost without it.

TR: You're lost WITH it.

GK: Who is this coming up here? (FOOTSTEPS)

SS: What's going on here? What's with the cattle?? We didn't order these. Get em out of here.

GK: We're delivering these to the CBC, ma'am. Chicago Beef Cube. Western Springs.

SS: Never heard of it.

GK: They grind up beef and they freeze it into cubes and people like to put it in their orange juice in the morning.

TR: By golly, Chicago is a beef kind of a town.

GK: Sure is.

SS: Well, this is no place for cattle, so get em out of here.

GK: I'd like to, ma'am, but we're gonna have to wait until dark. Too much traffic out there. And the critters are hungry.

SS: We've got a concert starting here in a couple hours so they better be gone by then or I call the cops.

TR: If the cops want to try herding a hundred head of cattle, they're welcome to try.

SS: What are they doing?

GK: They're eating grass, ma'am, and it looks to me like it's grass that sweaty people have sat on because the cows are pretty crazy about it—

TR: They love salt.

SS: I'm going to turn on the sprinkler system.

TR: I wouldn't do that—

GK: Cows love to wallow in mud. (SPRINKLERS) Okay, suit yourself then.

TR: Boy, look at em. (COW BELLOW) They love it.

GK: Rollin around on the grass— (COW PLEASURE)

TR: Hey, somebody's waving to you from down there—

GK: Who is it?

TR: Lady with blonde hair. Standing by the piano.

GK: Huh. Looks like a stage. Well— all right (BOOTS ON GRAVEL, THEN WOOD) Howdy, there.

Prudence Johnson: Hi. Nice horse you got.

GK: Thanks.

PJ: What's his name?

GK: Blaze. Nice pianist you got.

PJ: Thanks.

GK: What's his name?

PJ: Marcel. He's my accompanist. Jazz pianist.

GK: Aha.


PJ: He said, Does your friend do rope tricks?

GK: No, no— I'm a musician myself.


GK: Yeah, I play a little guitar. Write a few songs. Mostly about the cowboy life, you know—

PJ: I love cowboy songs.

GK: You do?

PJ: I do. (SINGS ACA) — Oh give me land, lots of land, under starry skies above — don't fence me in—

GK: That's nice. Actually, I wouldn't mind being fenced in a little. Depending on who did the fencing.

PJ: I wish I could do cowboy songs. But— you know — the big money is in jazz.

GK: Yeah, I don't know any cowboy singer who could fill a place this big.

PJ: If it were up to me, I'd sing about dogies and horses and the streets of Laredo, but my audience expects sophistication and a sense of irony—

GK: Yeah, not a lot of irony going on out on the trail. Either you're on your way to the next town and you can't wait to get there, or else you're leaving town as fast as you can and you can't wait to get out of sight. It's pretty much one or the other.

PJ: You know a song called "Cowboy Lullaby"?

GK: I believe I do. — So I picked up my guitar and I struck a chord (SOUR CHORD) that brought a look of pain to the Frenchman's face.


PJ: He says you have ruined the key of E-flat for him forever.


PJ: He begs you to please tune it.

GK: Oh. Okay. (TUNING) Didn't know he was so sensitive. (TUNING) Sounded okay to me, but then I'm not French. (CHORD) There. Good enough for cowboy music. (STARTS STRUMMING)


GK: Doggone it if that wasn't one of the prettiest tunes I ever heard.

PJ: I learned that from my daddy.

GK: He was a cowboy?

PJ: Sort of. He was a waxed paper salesman and he carried waxed paper in his pockets. So he was a rustler. He rustled quite a bit.

GK: That was a joke, wasn't it.

PJ: Yes.

GK: I thought so. And an old favorite of mine.

PJ: How about the one about the doctor who was such a great surgeon, he saved a cowboy who'd been in a terrible accident. There was nothing left of the cowboy but a ten-gallon hat and the rear end of his horse, and now he's the President of the United States.

GK: Hey— like you to meet my pardner, Dusty—

TR (DUSTY): Howdy, ma'am. (TO LEFTY) What you standing around jawin about? And who's the gink with the hair pomade? Looks like a Frenchie to me.

GK: He is.

TR (DUSTY): I knew it!!!

GK: Her pianist. Marcel.

TR (DUSTY): I could smell the cologne from way up there. —

SS: (APPROACHING) Listen to me, gentlemen— I'm expecting a crowd to start arriving in a couple hours and— isn't there some way to keep your cattle from— from— defecating all over the lawn?

TR: Depends.

SS: On what?

TR: On the cows.

SS: I don't get it.

TR: Depends for cattle. Enormous plastic diapers. They use 'em on hobby farms. We don't.

GK: You know, that reminds me of a story, ma'am — about when Queen Elizabeth was showing the Archbishop of Canterbury around the Royal Stables when one of the horses let out a tremendous loud fart. The Queen said, "Oh dear. I'm so sorry. How embarrassing." And the Archbishop said, "Oh, don't apologize. It's quite understandable. —Actually, I thought it was the horse."

SS: We are not amused.

PJ: Say—I know how we can get those cows moving. (BRIDGE)

GK: And she swung up in the saddle behind me. (GIDDYUPS, WHINNY, HOOVES) And we headed out of Ravinia (GUITAR STRUM) and she and I sang and those cows just ambled along behind (COWS) (2nd HALF OF LULLABY). (THEME)

SS: THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS...brought to you by Old Santa Fe Brand Magic Fingers Saddle...after a long day on the trail, you could use a little stimulation, and so could your horse. (WHINNY) (MUSIC PLAY OFF)

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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