Mom, March 4, 2000

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GK: People have asked me, Why are you doing your radio show from Ireland? And the answer is that I came from here, and I promised my mother I would. I grew up here but liked American songs like:

Love walked right in and drove the shadows away,
Love walked right in and brought my sunniest day,

Irish songs were about valor and betrayal and suffering and death, and American songs were about this bright sunshiny day when love walked in and everything became easy. And I sang these songs and gradually I got an American accent. Which broke my poor father's heart.

TR (DAD): And why do you talk like that? Listen to you. So flat and tuneless, like you got your mouth stuffed with rags. By the jappers, talk as God meant a man to talk or I'll give you a hand across the mouth, I will, have ye no shame?

GK: I'm sorry, but this is how I talk now, Dad, you have to accept it.

TR (DAD): Heavenly Father.

GK: I've been singing American songs, Dad. I guess I picked up this accent.

TR (DAD): Sweet Almighty God. You sound like someone grinding coffee ---- here--- let me pour you a shaheen of whiskey----

GK: I'm going to America, Dad. I want to make a career as a singer.

TR (DAD): Faith no. Not radio. Not among those pishrogues and hooligans and skivvies. What would your sainted mother say?

GK: My sainted mother. (VOCAL CHORD) My father's dream was that I'd become a writer, like Joyce or Yeats or Brian O'Nolan ---

TR (DAD): Here, me boy, I've run me trotters off going around getting you some fine books---- Joyce and Yeats --- look at this one---

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made---

(HE CONTINUES, UNDER....) Isn't that fine. “A small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made...”

GK: Dad wanted me to be brilliant and rebellious and tormented with genius and go to Paris and starve and write in a garret and be misunderstood. And I didn't want to be misunderstood. I wanted to be happy.

One look and I forgot the gloom of the past
One look and I had found my future at last
One look and I had found a world completely new
When love walked in with you.

TR (DAD): And what does happiness have to do with anything? Happiness is for heaven. Pick up your cross, lad, and bear it like a true Irishman. (MUSIC)

GK: Americans believe in happiness. They believe that the right toothpaste can give you a beautiful smile, and if you smile that beautiful smile, you'll get all happy inside. And it won't be long before someone smiles beautifully at you, and you'll fall in love. Just like that.

Birds do it, bees do it,
Even people with bad knees do it.
Let's do it. Let's fall in love.
Some intertwined centipedes do it
In the winter even Swedes do it.
Let's do it. Let's fall in love.
Fish singin and bubblin do it
The mackerel and trout.
Even people in Dublin do it
Though deeply in doubt.
The fiery hot sort of Scots do it
The English definitely do not do it.
But let's do it. Let's fall in love.

GK: My dad sat in the chimney corner, a chunk of peat blazing on the hearth, wrapped in a shawl, his crock at his feet, books piled around the chair, and it was the low point of his life when I came in one day wearing a cowboy hat.

TR (DAD): O dear God in heaven what sort of a hat is that? Did you get it from a tinker now?

GK: I got the part, Dad. I'm going to play Curly in the Abbey Theater production of “Oklahoma”.

TR (DAD): The Abbey Theater doing Oklahoma --- Yeats and Lady Gregory must be tumbling in their graves.

GK: It's a big part, Dad. I thought you'd be proud. And it's wonderful music.

OOOOOOOklahoma where the wind comes sweepin down the plain
And the wavin wheat can sure smell sweet when the wind comes right behind the rain.

TR (DAD): By the jappers, if you had any God's amount of sense in you, you'd know these songs for the pile of horsefeathers that they are. Did we raise our boy for an ignoramus? What would your sainted mother say if she heard you singing such nonsense.

GK: And my sainted mother said: (VOCAL GREGORIAN CHORD)

SS: If it's the only way you can meet a nice young girl who'll be the mother of my grandchildren, then so be it, and may sweet Almighty God forgive you. My boy----

GK: What is it, St. Mother?

SS (IRISH MOTHER): Promise me two things.

GK: Of course.

SS (IRISH MOTHER): If you ever have a radio show of your own, bring it back to Dublin.

GK: I will.

SS (IRISH MOTHER): And if you must sing American songs, please, me boy ---- for your old mother's sake, in the name of heaven, don't sing love ballads now.

GK: Okay, mother.

SS (IRISH MOTHER): Sing the blues, me boy.

GK: I will, mother.

SS (IRISH MOTHER): Sing a song about a broken heart. For me. For your mama.

GK: I promise. ---- This is for Mama. (LOVESICK BLUES)

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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