Open, September 17, 2011

The Fitzgerald Theater

Saint Paul, MN


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GK:
Done laid around, done played around
This old town too long
Summer's almost gone, winter's coming on
Done laid around, done played around
This old town too long
And it feels like I've got to travel on

Spent most of the summer thinking about my hair
Watching cable television in my underwear
Eating jelly doughnuts in an easy chair
And it feels like I got to travel on

I don't know what happened to the summer. I meant to travel around and maybe write something and here it is, fall, and I've gotten nowhere. I went to a university where the inscription over the door said the man is ennobled by understanding and I got a degree there and where is the nobility? I seem to have lost it. Maybe I drank too much beer. I forget.

Go to bed at midnight and I wake up at noon
I am living all alone with my pet raccoon
All I know is what I see on TV cartoons
And it feels like I got to travel on.

GK: I wanted to write a memoir this summer but the truth is that I've done so little in my life other than try to write, that there's nothing to write about, so I sit staring at a blank page day after day and don't ever go out and do anything that I could write about because I'm indoors trying to write about it. It's a wicked circle.

Haven't cleaned the basement, haven't mowed the lawn
I've been watching TV and feasting on bonbons
All I did this summer was try to write this song
And I feel like I got to travel on.

I was walking down Grand Avenue Monday afternoon and I heard a bagpiper in the distance (SFX) and it was at Macalester College, their opening convocation, and (MARCHING FEET) I saw a procession of professors in academic gowns and the incoming freshmen singing the school song -----

ALL (SUNG, TO HERE COME THE VICTORS):
Our hands are calloused and our hearts hold no malice and
We're masters of the universe, we are Macalester.

(BASS DRUM BOOMS, OFF, AS PROCESSION CONTINUES)

GK: Their faces were shining with ambition and a sense of purpose, and each department had its own cheer:

ALL: (MARCHING FEET CONTINUE LIGHTLY UNDER)
Illiteracy we will extinguish
We are proud to be majoring in English.
Chaucer! Shakespeare! Milton! Joyce!
Symbolism and the narrative voice!

(MARCHING FEET LIGHTLY)

(MARCHING FADES OFF)

GK: It was inspiring, all of that youthful ambition and energy, and it made me want to make something of myself and be somebody and not just a radio announcer. I remembered what my first grade teacher Mrs. Shaver said:

SS: I love the way you make the letters, Carson. So round and so legible. You're going to be a writer someday, Carson. I just know it. Your p's and your y's and q's with their tails down below the line......

GK: They taught us to reach for the stars. Ad astra per aspera. Through great difficulties we head for the stars. They had faith in me. And what happened? I became a radio crooner.

(SINGS, TO "WHAT'LL I DO")
Why did I do the things that I have done
Instead of what I could've?
Why did I make such big mistakes instead
Of doing what I should've?

RD: You're not a failure, mister. You're a champ in my book.

GK: Who are you?

RD: I'm your pianist. Rich. Remember?

GK: Oh yeah. I've seen you back there. Wondered what you were doing.

RD: Remember nineteen years ago? I was playing my harmonica on the street and you came along and dropped a dollar in my cup and that dollar was what gave me the faith that I could make it and I studied piano and worked and now here I am, your musical director, all thanks to you and that dollar ----- I get sort of choked up when I think about it.

GK: Okay. Well, glad to have you here.

RD: Listen, while I've got you----- I'd like to take next Saturday off ---- I want to get in the car and take a few weeks and just head west ----- go to Montana ----- I haven't done that for so long.......just head out.....go wherever I feel like going......feel the wind in my hair.......

GK: You want wind in your hair, we'll buy you an electric fan. Can't take time off. We've got to make something of this show. Play some music.

(RD PIANO)

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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