October 10, 2009
Fitzgerald Theater

Saint Paul, MN

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The Lives of the Cowboys script

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(THEME)

SS: THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS.....brought to you by Cheyenne Brand Tanin a Can — just rub it on and it gives you a nice even tan all over, no tell-tale white places like down there for example. And now today's exciting story.

(EVENING SOUNDS OF CAMP)

GK: Well, here we are on the Oregon Trail, Dusty. We'll pick up another hundred head in Bend and head south to California where we feed em in pastures of rosemary and oregano so the meat is pre-seasoned. And the cows breathe the ocean air so they're also pre-salted.

TR: I hope you enjoy it.

GK: I plan to.

TR: Cause I'm not goin'.

GK: Oh?

TR: No. I saw an ad for a job on a fishing boat up in Seattle and I called ‘em and I've been hired. Start work on Wednesday.

GK: You're quitting the cowboy life?

TR: I am indeed.

GK: Why?

TR: Sick of it. Sick of the misery, the loneliness, the dust on the trail and the long days in the saddle, and sleeping on the ground. On the beach, you can scoop out hollows that fit your body. I always wanted to live near the ocean and now I will. Simple as that.

GK: Well, good enough. Probably a good decision. I wish you well.

TR: Thanks.

GK: When you leaving?

TR: Now.

GK: Oh. Okay. Goodbye.

TR: That's all you say after 27 years of being pardners?

GK: Be well, do good work, keep in touch.

TR: So you want me to go—

GK: Want you to be happy. Yes. (FLY BUZZING, SLAP)

TR:You're happy I'm leaving?

GK: It's your decision. (FLY BUZZING) Not mine. You decided to go, not me, and I wish you well with it.

TR: I can't believe you're taking this so calmly. No attempt to try to talk me out of it. How are you going to manage this herd by yourself?

GK: Not going to. I'll get a different partner. (SLAP)

TR: Where you going to find anyone to do that?

GK: Already found him.

TR: You already found a replacement?

GK: I did.

TR: I don't believe this. For pure heartlessness—

GK: I heard you talking in your sleep about leaving and so — I found someone else.

TR: Twenty-seven years we shared the godforsaken lonely and tragic life of the trail, going on meaningless rides across the cold dusty plains, enduring landslides and flash floods and blizzards and rattlesnakes, not to mention sheer tedium on a scale hitherto unknown by mortal man, and you are replacing me without a single tear in your eye. Who's your new pardner?

GK: His name is Rusty.

TR: A cowboy?

GK: A journalist. Doing an article about cowboys and wants first-hand experience.

TR: Well, I can tell I am not wanted around here. Goodbye.

GK: Goodbye.

TR: Twenty-seven years of partnership and — well, never mind. Goodbye.

GK: Bye.

TR: Right. So long.

GK: Bon voyage.

TR: "Bon voyage?" Your last words to me are in French?

GK: Okay, then -- aloha.

TR: How about plain English?

GK: Farewell. Does that work for you?

TR: Well... (FOOTSTEPS START, THEN STOP.) I mean you would think there might be some acknowledgement.

GK: You want a gift?

TR: Forget it. (FOOTSTEPS WALKING AWAY. STOP.) So long, partner.

GK: Bye.

TR: (DISTANT) Bye-bye...

GK: Bye.

TR: (DISTANT) Farewell forever... (SLOUCHING FOOTSTEPS AWAY)

(PAUSE) (CELLPHONE RING)

GK: Yeah. (VOICE OTHER END) Yeah, I'm down here near the train tracks. (VOICE OTHER END) Yeah, that's me sitting on the horse. (VOICE OTHER END) Great. Well, come on over. (LIVELY FOOTSTEPS APPROACH TR (RUSTY): Oh wow. I can't believe this. Oh gosh. This is just incredibly exciting. I honestly had no idea that anybody was still riding a horse with chaps and boots and spurs — are those real chaps? Do you mind if I feel that? Wowser. All my life I dreamed of this, and now here it is and I am actually sitting on a horse with a cowboy pardner . Would you mind taking my picture? I just cannot believe this. This is the greatest day of my life. Really. Here. It's digital. Just point and shoot. (CLICK) Great. Get a vertical one, too. Me out on the prairie... (CLICK) I feel like I am a part of a unique and vanishing culture. Wow. Would you mind if I call up my girlfriend and you talk to her on the phone and tell her I am on a horse right now and we're about to herd cattle down the Oregon Trail? Would you do that for me? Just tell her?

GK: No.

TR (RUSTY): Okay, well maybe later. Wow. A cowboy. Hot dang. Is that what a cowboy would say? — or — Hot doggies— or would he say, Whoooooooooo-haw. What's more authentic.

GK: How would a cowboy express joy at being a cowboy?

TR (RUSTY): Yeah. Would he say, Dog my cats?? Would he wave his hat in the air and let out a big whoop and a holler?

GK: I think he'd just spit. You go ahead and try it.

TR (RUSTY): Really?

GK: Go ahead. But spit that way.

TR (RUSTY): That way?

GK: Never spit into the wind.

TR (RUSTY): I've gotta write that down.

GK: Never spit into the wind. Don't drink from the creek downstream of the herd.

TR (RUSTY): Okay. I'm writing this down.

GK: Don't squat with your spurs on.

TR (RUSTY): Oh wow. Cool.

GK: And never pass up an opportunity to keep your mouth shut.

TR (RUSTY): What was that?

GK: Whenever possible, shut up.

TR (RUSTY): Oh.

GK: It's the cowboy way.

TR (RUSTY): The cowboy way. The lone man on a horse on the open prairie. The man of few words. The iconic cowboy. And what does it mean for our society that this figure of manly virtue who is so very very important in the American psyche is fading away — may already have vanished — does this say that individualism itself is dead--

GK: Rusty?

TR (RUSTY): Yeah?

GK: There's a big black buzzard circling overhead.

TR: (RUSTY) What does it mean?

GK: Means he thinks he might have a meal in the near future. (STRUMS GUITAR)

TR (RUSTY): Oh wow. You're gonna sing? Boy. Do you mind if I record this? Hold on— let me get my cellphone. I want to be sure to get all this......Okay.

GK:
I ride an old Paint,
I lead an old Dan
I'm going to Montana
To try to be a man
My six guns are loaded
I'm ready to draw
Don't water my whiskey
I prefer it is raw
Whopitiyiyo—

(YODELS)

TR (RUSTY): Would you mind repeating that yodel one more time so I can get that down on tape?

GK: I don't yodel on demand.

TR (RUSTY): Just once more?

GK: No. (HE CLUCKS TO HORSE, HORSE HOOVES)

TR (RUSTY): Where you goin, Lefty?

GK: Saloon.

TR (RUSTY): Can I come with?

GK: No. Stay here.

TR (RUSTY): When you coming back?

GK: No idea. (GIDDYUP, HORSE GALLOPS. WHOAS. HORSE PULLS UP) Evening, sheriff.



TK: Evening, Lefty. How's the new pardner working out?

GK: Got a favor to ask of you, sheriff.



TK: Oh? What's that?

GK: Want you to form a posse of armed vigilantes chasing a fellow at breakneck speed across the prairie and firing their guns the bullets richocheting against the boulders.



TK: You bet. Well, last time we did that, the guy pulled that old low-overhanging-branch trick on us.

GK: Where he gallops under the low overhanging branch and grabs it and swings himself up and then when the posse rides under it, he jumps down and knocks them all off their horses and steals one of the horses and rides off scot-free.



TK: Yep. Made us look pretty doggone foolish.

GK: I don't think this guy is likely to pull the low overhanging branch trick.



TK: Good. Okay— (CALLING) C'mon boys, mount up and let's go get him. (SFX: HORSES, GIDDY-UP! YEE-HA! HORSES GALLOP OFF, PISTOLS SHOOTING.)

GK: Dusty? Dusty? That you hunkered down in the weeds?

TR: (DUSTY - DISTANT) Whaddya want?

GK: Thought you were going to sea.

TR: (DUSTY) I forgot, I get seasick.

GK: Come back on the trail then.

TR (DUSTY): Don't want to go where I'm not wanted.

GK: Dusty, if we only did what was wanted, we no longer be cowboys. Not in the iconic sense anyway.

TR: Huh?

(GIDDYUP, GALLOPS AWAY) (THEME)

SS: THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS......brought to you by Santa Fe Brand Bandolier Kit — you can make your own bandolier out of handsome calfskin, with your initials, a favorite saying, etchings of you and your loved ones, and it holds up to 300 bullets.

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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