The Lives of the Cowboys script
Saturday, October 11, 2008

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SS: The Lives of the Cowboys. Brought to you by Cowboy Seat Belts. Long days in the saddle can mean falling asleep and falling off your horse (FALLING CRY, SPLAT IN MUD. TR CRUEL LAUGHTER). Avoid the humiliation. Buckle up. And now, The Lives of the Cowboys.

(AUCTIONEER, OFF, CROWD AMBIENCE)

TR: Saddest thing I ever seen, Lefty. I've seen banks fail and newspapers, but I never thought I'd see the day when a saloon goes bankrupt.

GK: It's bad all over, Dusty.

TR: But a saloon — do people not have sorrows to drown?

GK: Maybe the price of corn liquor went up on account of ethanol production. Maybe the floozies didn't flooze like they useta.

TR: But where do I go now? I'm without a home—

GK: Guess you have to make friends with people who have a domicile.

TR: That's the beauty of the saloon — you don't have to make friends. You've already got a dozen pals the moment you walk in the door and buy a round for the house. And you can cuss and whoop and belch and scratch yourself with impunity. Where am I gonna go now? I have lost my home on earth.

GK: Well. Everywhere you go, there you are.

TR: Yeah, but what about Wyoming?

GK: Never mind. — What's he auctioning off now?

TK (AUCTIONEER): Okay. (GAVEL) Lot Number 103. We got whiskey, 10 bottles of rotgut whiskey, get the whole set-I have five dollars, do we have six-six dollars do we have six—-where's six, gimme six—- six dollars for ten partial bottles of whiskey— (HE CONTINUES UNDER)

TR: This is making me sad. We should go.

GK: Let's wait just a little bit.

TR: For what? We don't got any money.

GK: I got a little money.

TR: Where'd you get money?

GK: Saved it.

TR: Saved it!!!!???? I thought you were a cowboy!!!! (FOOTSTEPS)

SS: Lefty? Is that you?

GK: Evelyn--

SS: Lefty, what are you doing here? I thought you were out on the trail-

GK: I was. But Dusty heard the old saloon here was going under. Came to pay our respects.



TK (AUCTIONEER): Okay, Lot No. 104. Old upright piano, smells like cigar smoke, a few keys missing and there are bullet holes in it but it plays okay in the key of C or G, bidding starts at 20 dollars, do we have twenty dollars, twenty twenty—-

TR (DEEP, OFF): Twenty.

SS: Twenty five! I gotta have that piano, Lefty-



TK (AUCTIONEER): We've got twenty five, do we have thirty…where's thirty, gimme thirty—(HE CONTINUES UNDER)

GK: You're bidding on the piano?

SS: I give piano lessons now, Lefty. Except I don't have a piano yet.

TR (DEEP, OFF): Thirty.

TK (AUCTIONEER): We have thirty dollars for the old piano. Thirty dollars, do we have thirty five-

SS: Forty!

GK: You're really going for it.

TK (AUCTIONEER): Forty dollars says the lady in the coat, do we have forty five-

TR (DEEP, OFF): Forty five.

SS: Darn it.

TK (AUCTIONEER): We have forty-five dollars to the man in the black hat, do we have fifty dollars, nice piano, smells like cigar smoke, some beerstains, plays okay in C or G -

GK: That mine owner is bidding against you, Evelyn-

TK (AUCTIONEER): Fifty dollars for the piano, stands up against the wall, makes sounds when you touch it, it's a piano good piano good enough piano, going once-

SS: Fifty dollars!

GK: Evelyn!

SS: I know, Lefty-but I just want it so bad…

TR: Sixty dollars!

GK: What's a rich guy doing bidding on an old used piano?

SS: Just pure meanness, that's what.

TK (AUCTIONEER): We have sixty dollars for the piano, do I hear sixty five-gimme sixty-five, where's sixty-five— going at sixty— going once, going twice—

GK: Sixty-five!

SS: Lefty!

TR (DEEP, OFF): Seventy-

GK: Seventy-five!

TK (AUCTIONEER): Whoa, hello, seventy-five dollars for the old upright piano-

TR: Eighty!

GK: Eighty-five!

TR: A hundred and eighty-five!

GK: Two hundred and eighty-five (CROWD AHHHH)

TR: Five hundred and eighty-five—- (CROWD BOOING) (CRIES FROM CROWD: Come on, Lefty! You can do it! Raise him again!)

GK: Sorry, Evelyn. I gotta fold.

TK: SOLD (GAVEL) to Mr. McMaster for $585. (CROWD HUBBUB)

TR (MINE OWNER): Okay, people!!!! You want to know why I bought this lousy piano for $585??? Huh? Well, I'll tell yuh. It's because I hate pianos. And now that it's my piano, I can — (CROWD REACT— Look out! He's got a gun!) —- You're right, I got a gun. And I'm gonna put this here piano out of its misery—

GK: Oh no, you don't.

TR (MINE OWNER): Outta my way, mister. Unless you want me to put you out of your misery too (HE LAUGHS)

GK: What you got against this piano, mister?

TR (MINE OWNER): I am sick of hearing "Camptown Races" played on it, that's what. Piano player who worked in that saloon for twenty years — only song he knew was "Camptown Races" —- I've been listening to "Camptown Races" every night for twenty years — Doo dah doo dah day! I hear it in my mind everywhere I go —- If I hear "Camptown Races" one more time, I'm going to lose my mind!!! And I'm not kidding!!! (HIGHER PITCH) I'm going to go right over the edge!!!

GK: (SINGS) Gwine to run all night, Gwine to run all day (OTHERS JOIN IN) Put my money on the bobtail nag, somebody bet on the bay.

TR: Stop!!! No!!!!

ALL: Gwine to run all night, Gwine to run all day. Put my money on the bobtail nag, somebody bet on the bay.

TR: I can't stand it. Please! No more!

ALL (BIG CHORAL 4-PART): The Camptown Ladies sing this song. Doo dah, doo dah. Camptown Race Track's four miles long. O the doo dah day. Gwine to run all night, Gwine to run all day. Put my money on the bobtail nag, somebody bet on the bay.

TR (SOBBING): I can't stand it. Take the piano. I don't care anymore. (HE FADES AWAY, SOBBING)

SS: Poor man. I know how he feels. "Shortnin' Bread" sort of has the same effect on me.

GK: Well, anyway you got you a piano, Evelyn. Hey Dusty — come over here and lend a hand.

TR: What you want? Oh no. Not me. I got a bad back.

GK: Just help me get this piano up on the sidewalk. (BRIDGE)

SS: I just do not know how to thank you enough, Lefty. It's beautiful. Smells funny, but my students will be so happy.

GK: I hope it's not too out of tune, Evelyn.

SS: Well. There's just one way to tell. (CHOPIN ETUDE)

GK: My gosh that is beautiful. Is that Choppin?

SS: You mean Chopin.

GK: That's who I meant, yeah.

SS: It is Chopin.

GK: I love that. I could sit here and listen to you play for days, Evelyn. I know it's not my place to say it but I could imagine you and me being together. You playing the piano, and me writing songs. In fact I wrote a song about it.

(STRUMS)

GK (SINGS): I'd love to be
Drinking green tea
And listening to— you play Chopin for me
A happy man
That is what I'd be if I could see you at the grand pi
Ano looking up at me

(DOOR OPENS, BOOT FOOTSTEPS)

TK: Howdy Evelyn darlin. I made it. You ready?

SS: Oh. Hi, Hector. Hector, this is my friend Lefty. Look what he got for me.

TK: A piano. Well, ain't that somethin. Mebbe you can siddown and play me something while I have me a cold beer. You want a cold beer, Mister?

GK: No thanks.

TK: Okay. Well— (HAWKS, SPITS) You from around here?

GK: No, not any more. —Guess I'll be going then.

SS: Where are you going, Lefty?

GK: Anywhere. Nowhere. Doesn't matter.

SS: But I was just about to tell you something Lefty-

GK: Don't need to. I get the picture.

SS: Is this because of-

GK: It's not because of anything. It's just how it is. You know? I wanted too much.

SS: How what is, Lefty?

GK: Life. Fate. The world spinning on its axis. I had a whole other narrative in mind and now I can see what a fool I was. I went off and imagined something that wasn't true.

SS: It's Hector, isn't it?

GK: It's nothing in particular. Nothing and everything, that's all. I'm a fool. I was hoping for something and you made your choice and I respect that and I wish you well and I'm just gonna clear on out of here.

SS: Hector is the piano tuner, Lefty.

(A BEAT)

GK: You mean he's not-

SS: No. Why, what did you think?

GK: So you and he aren't-

SS: No Lefty. I'm on my own.

GK: Because it seemed like he was-

SS: He's not. He's just the piano tuner. And I let him keep beer in my fridge.

GK: So maybe you and I could-

SS: Let's talk about it, Lefty.

GK: You don't mind that I'm-

SS: A cowboy? No. I love you.

GK: I love you.

TK: Piano sounds fine, Miss Evelyn. Don't think it needs much tuning after all.

SS: Thanks, Hector.

(CHOPIN)

GK (SINGS): Here neath the moon
I sing a tune
And hear you play— piano from the saloon
It is Chopin
I am filled with ecstasy to see you playing beautifully
As only you can

I don't need gin
To make me grin
I need Chopin — or some would say Chopin


(YODEL)

(THEME)

SS: The Lives of the Cowboys. Brought to you by Cling-Off Static Cling Spray for Cowboys. Your underwear is likely to bunch up on a long trail ride and when it does it can hurt (HORSE HOOVES TROTTING, TK RHYTHMCI CRIES OF PAIN). Cling-Off Static Cling Spray-it keeps your undies from getting bunched. (SPRAY) Use it and avoid unnecessary suffering on the trail.

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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