The Lives of the Cowboys, July 2, 2011

Koussevitzky Music Shed, Tanglewood Music Festival

Lenox, MA


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The Lives of the Cowboys

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SS: The Lives of the Cowboys. Brought to you by Wyatt Earp Padded Tarp. If you've got to sit on the ground, buttress your behind with the Wyatt Earp Padded Tarp. And now, the Lives of the Cowboys.

(SLOW TRAFFIC, HORSE NICKERS)

SS: Welcome to Tanglewood, gentlemen, but you're going to have to park those horses up in the trees.

GK: Thanks. We're only going to be a few hours.

SS: Tie them up over by the woodshed.

TR: You mean that big barn over there?

SS: No, that's the Music Shed. Woodshed is that little building with the firewood in it.

GK: Thank you. And which way is the Singer Songwriter competition?

SS: You in the Men's Division or the Women's?

GK: Men's.

SS: It's in the Men's Room. That one-story building over there that says Men.

GK: You mean, the toilet?

SS: Yes, but the acoustics are really good.

GK: Okay. Thanks. (FOOTSTEPS OFF) Never heard of a music contest held in a toilet, Dusty.

TR: Well, you got to start somewhere. And the toilet is a place where people go when there's something in them they just have to get out. Which is sort of like singers.

GK: I suppose. And it's for a nice prize. Ten-thousand dollars. Win a prize like that and it could be the big break I'm looking for.

TR: I don't know. You're getting kind of old to be a pop star, pardner. Hair is thin and lifeless, you got old hands and your teeth are yellow and your neck is ropy. Young people don't care for ropy necks.

GK: What about Willie Nelson?

TR: He's the exception that proves the rule.

GK: Well, I've got a nylon stocking you pull over your head that takes care of that.

TR: You maybe better use support hose. Control top.

GK: Well, here it is. Looks like there are quite a few contestants. You want to come in and listen?

TR: I'd rather poke my eyes out with a stick and eat them on a slice of toast.

GK: I'll take that for a no.

(BRIDGE)

SS: Okay, I'm the judge of the Singer Songwriter contest and I'm the only judge so don't look around for the others. I'm going to listen to you for as long as I need to and no longer and when I've heard enough I'm going to flush the toilet, okay? And this is a full-flush toilet. One flush and you're out. Good. Let's have our first contestant.

(LONG WALK)

PD (SINGS, PLAYS):
I had a pal and his name was Fred
I had a pal and his name was Fred
I had a pal and his name was Fred
His name was Fred, that's what I said.

(TOILET FLUSH)

SS: Nice try. Next contestant.

(LONG WALK AND STOP)

RD: (GUITAR)
These are the good times, times are pretty good
People mostly trying to do the things they should
Music playing here at Tanglewood.
And I've been all around this world.

(TOILET FLUSH)

SS: Thank you.

RD: There's more!

SS: There's always more. Next.

(LONG WALK AND STOP)

TR (GUITAR, DYLANESQUE):
Come gather 'round people
Whoever you be
And shut up your talking
And listen to me
For I am a singer
From Schenectady
And I've got a message I'm bringing

A song that's different from anything you knew
And this song it needs
a-singin'.

(FLUSH)

SS: Thank you very much.

TR: What was wrong with that??

SS: I don't discuss my decisions. Next. (LONG WALK, STOP) Could you go around that way, sir?

GK: Of course. (LONG WALK, TURN, AND LONG WALK BACK)

SS: Thank you.

GK: No problem.

(GUITAR STRUM)

GK (SINGS):
There was a young couple named Kelly
Who were found lying belly to belly
Because in their haste
They used library paste
Instead of petroleum jelly.

(HE STOPS)

GK: That's it. That's my song.

SS: That's all of it?

GK: In its entirety.

SS: Okay. Next.

(SHORT WALK)

TR: How come he was way up front and not sitting in the back with us?

SS: Cause he asked to be.

TR: Doesn't seem fair to me. We had to walk all the way up front and he's sitting up there perched on a leather ergonomic stool like he's a friend of yours or something.

SS: Well, you protest all you like. Are you ready, Jimmy?

FN: Ready.

(GUITAR PLAYING)

(SINGS):
You call me on the phone and you say come over
Like you're tossing me a bone
And frankly I would rather be alone.

I am updating my webpage
And downloading on my phone
I am right in my comfort zone
And frankly I would rather be alone

I bought a bottle of Barolo
And I would rather drink it solo
Got a nice big pizza pie
For me, myself, and I. (TABLA SOLO)

TR: Hey, how come he gets to have another musician? The rules didn't say you could bring along someone else!!!

SS: Didn't say you couldn't.

TR: It's a songwriter contest, it isn't a battle of the bands.

SS: Hush.

(SOLO OF REPETITIVE PHRASES)

FN (SINGS):
I enjoy my solitude
I'm a singular dude
You can have society
I like hanging out with me
Do you like me? I don't care
In this game of solitaire
I am the leader of the pack
I am the starting quarterback
I am the star of the show
I.M.H.O. I.M.H.O.

(SS CLAPPING)

SS: Brilliant. Beautiful. Loved it. That was gorgeous.

FN: Thanks.

SS: I knew you could do it, Jimmy. That was great.

FN: Thanks for believing in me, Gwen.

GK: So he wins the prize?

SS: I didn't say that.

GK: It looks that way.

SS: I announce my decision in two weeks.
(GROANS OF DISBELIEF) If you want to be informed, leave me a stamped self-addressed envelope and a dollar fifty for handling.
(GROANS, FOOTSTEPS) (BRIDGE)
(HORSES WHINNY, WALKING)

TR: So she gave the prize to that shnook, huh?

GK: The fix was in, Dusty. She'd made up her mind before anybody sang a note.

TR: Well, I guess she knew what she liked and it wasn't you.

GK: Makes a person feel bad, though. Come all this way for nothing.

TR: Hey, we're cowboys. We feel bad most every day. Duststorms, tornadoes, varmints, rattlesnakes, taste of dust in your mouth. Life is a series of low points. So let's go into Stockbridge and find us a saloon in a hotel and if nobody steps on our foot then that's a good start.

GK: No saloons around these parts, Dusty. Just wine bars.

TR: Then we'll sidle up to the bar and order their cheapest bottle of wine. Someone's gotta do it.

GK: Someone's got to do it. The cowboy motto.

TR: And if it isn't as bad as the one we had in Yellow Gulch that time, then things are looking up.

GK: That's right.

TR: And if a pretty woman smiles at me, then I'm happy.

GK: You got it.

TR: And if I tell her she's pretty and the guy next to her doesn't haul off and slug me in the kisser, then it's a good evening.

GK: That's a great philosophy. I think I'll write a song about it.

TR: Please don't.

(THEME)

SS (ANNC): The Lives of the Cowboys. Brought to you by Wyatt Earp Padded Tarps.

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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