The Lives of the Cowboys script
Saturday, November 15, 2008

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SS: The Lives of the Cowboys. Brought to you by Durango Donuts. The freeze-dried donuts that don't crumble in your saddlebag. Because even on the trail, breakfast is still the most important meal of the day. Available in cinnamon, persimmon, and Sen-Sen. And now: The Lives of the Cowboys.

(COWS, GUITAR TUNING)

GK: Sure good to be in Texas, Dusty. Warm sun shining down. River. Trees.

TR: Hope they don't find out your name is Lefty. Texans don't go for that.

GK: Up north, they have snow. Old men shoveling their walks. Heavy wet snow. Having heart attacks. Here we are in shirtsleeves, blue sky, life is good.

TR: Not good enough to write a song about it though.

GK: I don't know. (SINGS)

I do not have much money and my clothes are old and torn
And the food I eat is not the best cuisine
And my bedroll is muddy and my boots are rather worn
And my hair is thinning and my horse is mean.
But I am here in Texas and at least it is not cold
And I do not labor under winter's curse
And I am not senile or so I have been told
And so I'd say it could be a lot worse.

My back hurts and my legs are stiff as two old sticks of wood
And I'm homeless for I do not have a house
But I did not run for office so my reputation's good
And I'm not in debt up to my eyebrows.

TR: Oh oh. Someone's coming. (HORSE APPROACHES) Maybe the Music Police. Don't recognize him. A masked man. I am going to go slip into the bushes, Lefty — you talk to him, I'll keep you covered.

GK: Okay. (FOOTSTEPS AWAY)

(HORSE APPROACHES, SLOWS)

TR (BUSH): Hi there. Mind if I get down off my horse, set by your fire, rest for a minute?

GK: Make yourself to home, mister.

TR (BUSH): Appreciate it. — You wouldn't happen to have today's newspaper around, wouldja?

GK: Don't read the papers.

TR (BUSH): How about a radio or TV?

GK: Don't have that either.

TR (BUSH): I came to the right place then.

GK: What brings you way out here, stranger?

TR (BUSH): I'm from here. I been way out there and now I've come back to where I'm from.

GK: What were you doing way out there?

TR (BUSH): Asked myself that question many times.

GK: Your face is familiar somehow. But why the mask?

TR (BUSH): Just trying to be a little less familiar. Want to lay low for a while.

GK: Cuppa coffee? It's a little bitter.

TR (BUSH):
Let us take a cup of bitter coffee, my lord,
And sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings;
How some have been deposed, forsooth,
And others left to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous media.

GK: So you're a storyteller, huh?

TR (BUSH):
Farewell! a long farewell, to all my greatness!
Forsooth, the hanging chads put forth
The tender leaves of hope, and blossomed,
And public approval rose to sixty, seventy,
And I rode hither to sweet applause. Tis true, my lord.
And then, lo came three winters of discontent.
My name befouled. O noble Brownie, 'twere no good
And a prince from Chicago sallied forth —
Lo, vast crowds before him lay, a hundred-thousand or more,
A million in Berlin — one million, my lord,
Where I, the king, might attract a piteous lot
Of lumpish oafs with jowls like — this prince, this upstart, this youth
Slender and with large ears,
He scored great triumphs and all at my expense,
And then — O irony, O bitter irony —
I must welcome him to my house,

TR (BUSH) (CONT.):
Grinning stand upon the step with my good queen,
Invite him in and give to him the keys.

O, how wretch'd — all my greatness gone.
Here you see the ruin of my hopes.
My revels now are ended.
O what a noble mind is here o'erthrown.
Talking about myself there.

GK: Right. Well, that's interesting. Guess there's a lot going on in your world, huh?

TR (BUSH): You could say that.

GK: So you lived around here?

TR (BUSH): Not too far.

GK: You a rancher?

TR (BUSH): Nope. Never did that. I got a ranch but no cattle.

GK: There's a lot of that going on these days.

TR (BUSH): I've been in the king business. Kingship and all that.

GK: Forgive me for saying it but you don't look like a king.

TR (BUSH):
I know that. I had the benefit of low expectations. I was misunderestimated.
And now the trumpets sound and one last council
And then I'm doomed to Crawford
And the slow hours of exile, a heavy sentence,
And who will buy my memoirs?
Who will hire me to lecture in the English tongue?
What shall I do but sit, my eyes upon a screen
Whereupon dim figures swing their clubs
And drive the tiny orb toward yonder green?

GK: You got the makings of a good cowboy. You got a checkered past, you got bitter regrets, you got a good pair of boots. Good luck to you.

(GUITAR STRUMS)

TR (BUSH):
As I walk out in the streets of Washington
And head for Texas I feel sort of bad
And wonder why I ran for President.
Maybe it was Oedipal about showing up my dad.
My dad was a wimp cause he went off to war
And he decided not to go to Baghdad
And I thought I'd go in and do him one better
And now I am wishing that I never had.
I wish I had never put on that flight suit,
And said Mission Accomplished, and other things,
Or invaded that country in search of those weapons,
But I'm afraid Mr. Cheney was pulling my strings.
Oh here is to Cheney and old Karl Rove
And here is to Brownie and his heckuva job
And here is to Rumsfeld whose idea the war was
And I could go on but I guess I will stop.

Oh beat the drum slowly and play the fife lowly
As I ride toward the sunset over the hill
I'll be on my ranch in Crawford, Texas,
If you should need me, though I doubt that you will.

GK: Good luck to you, sir.

TR (BUSH): Take naps, that's my advice. Sleep it off. Always makes you feel better.

GK: Okay. Sleep well, mister.

TR (BUSH): Okay. I'm headin' west now, right?

GK: That's west.

TR (BUSH): You're sure—

GK: Setting sun— that's west.

TR (BUSH): Good. Just want to make sure.

(HORSE TROTS OFF, THEME)

SS: The Lives of the Cowboys. Brought to you by the Cowboy Safety Council. Before you climb onto the saddle, make sure it's attached firmly to the horse. Pull on it hard to make sure. Avoid embarrassing accidents.

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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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