Here on this summer night in the grass and the lilac smell
Drunk on the crickets and the starry sky
Oh what fine stories we could tell
with this moonlight to live them by.
A Love Poem
It’s Saturday morning and the Knoxville heat is sweltering. But, neither my future wife nor I are aware of the thick humidity or blazing sun as we drift around each other in our cramped kitchen. The smell of turkey bacon and eggs is wafting through the apartment, half-completed undergraduate assignments are littered in totally illogical places, and we’re laughing at our young orange tabby cat who is vaulting in and out of a cardboard box like a feline Olympian. In the background, Garrison Keillor is filling our ears with a soothing “memory” about a 15-ton fishing cottage that’s so heavy it’s breaking the ice on Lake Wobegon.
Years later, this memory still puts a big, goofy grin on my face. It was a perfect morning, one before mortgages and car payments. One from a clearer time when everything sparked passion and life seemed only to stretch on for miles before us.
Looking back, I have a surprising number of happy memories whose soundtrack is voiced by Mr. Keillor and the rest of the crew at A Prairie Home Companion. And I know I’m not alone in this. All over the country, listeners have enjoyed the docile, venerable, heart-warming tones of Keillor’s voice since the first broadcast almost exactly 41 years ago. So it was with a heavy heart that we all learned of Mr. Keillor’s impending departure from the show.
Fortunately, Keillor is not just bolting out of the blue. Instead, he plans to fade out during the 2015 – 2016 season, all the while slowly introducing his replacement to the show. This measured approach is highly appropriate as the new host will definitely bring a new and exciting vibe to the show. What kind of vibe, you ask? Well, how about a rock and roll, progressive, folksy one?
That’s right, Mr. Keillor’s replacement is named Chris Thile and if you haven’t heard of him, chances are you’re not terribly in tune with the world of Folk-Rock. Thile rose to fame as the singer/mandolin player for acoustic progressive band Nickel Creek. Following the band’s breakup in 2006, he moved on to fronting The Punch Brothers. And very soon you’ll be hearing him as a part of “Guy Noir,” “The Lives of the Cowboys,” “News from Lake Wobegon,” and more.
Obviously, we will miss Garrison Keillor, but we look forward to seeing what Chris Thile will bring to the broadcast. And now, to end this article perhaps too sentimentally, enjoy the trailer from the 2006 feature film A Prairie Home Companion, directed by Robert Altman which depicts the fictional “end” of this incredible show.
The Keillor Reader:Looking Back at Forty Years of Stories:Where Did They All Come From? by Garrison Keillor (Penguin Books, 2015)
This collection features the stories that have moved and inspired us from Garrison Keillor’s illustrious career. Readers will enjoy this book with great fondness as they take a trip down memory lane with Mr. Keillor.