TR (ANNC): Once again, Rainbow Motor Oil and the Rainbow Family of Automotive Products presents... The Story of Bob, A Young Artist. (SILVERWARE, PLATES, DOG PANTS)
SS: More Rice Krispie bars, Bob? I've got another piece with your name on it.
GK: No thanks, Berniece. The taxi will be here any minute to take me to the airport. I have a 2 o'clock flight to Interlochen.
TR (POPS): You're going to be locked up? For what?
GK: Interlochen, Pops. It's an arts school in Michigan.
TR (POPS): Don't need to go to Michigan to be interlocking. You can interlock anywhere you can find someone to interlock with. Which in your case may be a problem.
SS: Bob has been commissioned to write a concerto for the music department.
TR (POPS): Who's Alberto? (DOG PANTS)
SS: Concerto, Pops. Concerto!
TR (POPS): Okay, who's Pops Concerto?
SS: You have your toothbrush? Your tooth powder? Your eczema cream?
GK: I'm all set, Berniece.
SS: How about those nice clip-on bowties I got you for Christmas? They'd go real well with the plaid shirts.
GK: Composers don't wear bowties, Berniece. Those are for gynecologists and lawyers.
SS: How about your bolo tie? That nice western one?
SS: What's your concerto called?
GK: It's called Fire Music.
SS: Oh. Fire Music.
SS: Bob's concerto is called Fire Music, Pops!
TR (POPS): Well, it's about time!
SS: Oh that's so exciting. Maybe Pops and I ought to come.
GK: Please don't.
SS: Pops, how about you and I go to Interlochen?
TR (POPS): That's where he's going?
TR (POPS): No, thanks. (CAR HORN, OFF)
GK: I gotta go... that's my taxi.
SS: Better zip up your suitcase, Bob.
GK: I'm trying. (STRUGGLE WITH ZIPPER)
SS: You brought a lot of stuff for one weekend.
GK: I need a bigger suitcase. (STRUGGLE WITH ZIPPER, CAR HORN, OFF, DOG SNIFFS) Get out of there, Rex, git!
TR (POPS): He's smelling your underwear.
GK: I see that. (DOG SNIFFS) Git, dog.
TR (POPS): Whoops, got a pair of tighty whities there. (DOG SCAMPERS OFF)
SS: Oh dear. Rex, drop it. (DOG GROWL, CAR HORN, OFF)
GK: I gotta go.
SS: You don't want your underwear, Bob?
GK: I have other underwear. (ZIPS SUITCASE) There.
SS: Have a good weekend, Bob. We'll see you when you get back.
(DOOR OPENS, CLOSES) (BRIDGE)
(VIOLIN TUNING, WARM UP. PIANO WARMUP. BASS WARMUP)
FN: Hi, you must be Bob, our visiting artist in residence.
GK: Yes, that's me.
FN: I'm Don Swann. I'm writing the program notes for your concerto tomorrow night. And it's called Fire Music?
GK: Yes, sir.
FN: Can you tell me a little about what the piece is about?
GK: It's about rebirth.
GK: And renewal.
FN: Rebirth AND renewal.
GK: Right. And revival. You see, forest fires are a natural part of the life cycle of a forest and it's through fires, and their destructiveness, that room is made for new growth.
FN: Okay. Good. (FOOTSTEPS, TR DEEP RUSSIAN) Oh, this is maestro Pavlo Pavlovavich, from St. Petersburg. And his translator, Olga. (SS: Hello)
GK: Pleasure to meet you. (TR DEEP RUSSIAN) What's he saying?
SS (RUSSIAN): He's says where is rest of orchestra.
GK: This is the orchestra.
SS (RUSSIAN): Three people???
GK: Well, also a fire truck and some fire extinguishers and some Dalmatians.
SS (RUSSIAN): Why is the man pouring gasoline on the piano? (SFX)
GK: It's in the score.
TR: (DEEP SAD RUSSIAN)----- Steinway?
GK: We have to light the piano on fire, yes.
SS (RUSSIAN): We must burn the piano? For why?
GK: The piece makes no sense without the flaming piano. It's the central metaphor.
SS (RUSSIAN): The maestro says, How about a xylophone instead?
GK: That's not what the score calls for.
FN: I think that what Olga is trying to say here is that maybe the fireworks and the blowtorch and the fire extinguishers are enough, Bob. To get the idea of rebirth across.
GK: I think we need the piano. We need the pianist playing his cadenza as the flames rise and as the dogs run around in a frenzy. Otherwise, what's the point?
FN (OFF): Okay, places everybody. (TR RUSSIAN GRUMBLES, FOOTSTEPS, DOGS). Everybody set... This is dress rehearsal, people, dress.
(PIANO, VIOLIN, BASS, RANDOM MINIMALIST)
GK (UNDER): This is it. My big chance. I've waited so long for this. Everything I've been through... years of underemployment... living at home.. driving that 1978 Ford Fairmont... all so I could be here now. A composer. I really think that things are going to start happening for me now. (TIME WARP) Happening for me now. Happening for me now... happening for me now...
(FANTASY TIME PASSAGE MUSIC)
SS (BERNIECE): So then what happened, Bob? You were at rehearsal and the orchestra was there and the Russian conductor------
TR (POPS): Gimmie another of those tuna melts, Berniece.
SS (BERNIECE, OFF): Here you go, Pops (SFX)
GK: Well it started all right. The first movement began (PIANO CHORDS, ASCENDING), and that sounded good, and (VIOLIN) the violinist came in and then the bass (BASS) scratched his bow back and forth faster and faster (SFX) until he ignited a spark (SFX), and the rocket on the neck of the bass fiddle went off (SFX) and the Dalmatians (DOGS BARKING AND HOWLING), and the soprano with her blowtorch (SFX) and she sang....
SS (FRENCH, SINGING):
Love is a burning thing
And it makes a fiery ring
Bound by wild desire
I fell into a ring of fire.
GK: And she lit the blow torch (BIG WHOOSH OF FLAME, SIREN) and she set the piano on fire.
(WHOOSH, CRACKLE. PIANO INTO CADENZA)
SS (FRENCH, SINGING):
I fell into a burning ring of fire
I went down, down, down and the flames went higher (DOG FREAKOUT)
And it burns, burns, burns, the ring of fire
The ring of fire
GK: And then the fire truck came (SIREN) and they got out the hose (SFX) and Dalmatians sang in chorus (SFX) as the piano played wilder and wilder (SFX) and the maestro threw down his baton and left (TR RUSSIAN STORMING OFF), and his pants caught on fire (TR REACT) and the musicians aimed fire extinguishers at him (SFX, BEETHOVEN 3RD CHORDS). And that was that. And now I'm here.
SS (BERNIECE): That sounds wonderful!
GK: Well, it was okay except that he took the tempo too fast in the first movement and the dogs were off-key and the percussion forgot to come in.
SS: Well, it was a rehearsal.
GK: I know, but there was no performance. They only had the one piano.
SS: Oh, that's too bad.
TR (POPS): There's crunchy things in this tuna melt. (CRUNCHING)
SS: It's celery, Pops.
GK: Yeah. The audience came to the concert and there was no concerto but the whole camp was talking about the rehearsal. Word spreads with a thing like that. And when the conductor went out to announce that they couldn't do my piece ----- (TR RUSSIAN) ---- the audience got really upset (BOOING, SHOUTING: FAKE! CHEAT! LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE!) and they mobbed the stage and set his pants on fire (TR RUSSIAN RUNNING) and the maestro ran and jumped in the lake (TR SHOUT, SPLASH) which people had been telling him to do for years. So it was good. I recorded a little bit of it on voice mail. Listen. (CLICK)
SS (SINGS, W WILD PIANO):
I went down, down, down and the flames went higher
And it burns, burns, burns, the ring of fire
The ring of fire
(SIREN) (FIRE HOSE) (SINGING DALMATIANS) (WILD PIANO) STOP CLICK
SS: That's it?
GK: That's it.
SS: It sounds really exciting.
GK: It was.
SS: So you had a success.
GK: Hard to tell with new music. (DOG GROWLS)
TR (POPS): Look, there's Rex. And he's got your underwear.
GK: Drop it, Rex, drop it! (DOG GROWLS)
TR (POPS): Let him have it. This is what he lives for.
GK: Drop it! (SPLAT). Good dog. (PANTING)
SS: Oh now Bob, give the underwear to me, I'll sew them up if you want.
GK: It's okay Berniece. I'll just take them upstairs. Maybe I'll make it into art.
TR (POPS): Undies on a stick. He's gonna make a flag.
SS: Now Pops. (DOG PANTS)
TR (POPS): Set them on fire. That'll renew them.
GK: You don't understand me. You've never understood me.
SS: Oh Pops. Now look what you've done. Bob! Bob? (DOOR SLAMS)
TR (ANNC): Rainbow Motor Oil and the Rainbow Family of Automotive Products has brought you: The Story of Bob, a Young Artist.
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).