(GK: Garrison Keillor, SS: Sue Scott, TK: Tom Keith, TR: Tim Russell)


SS: THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS....brought to you by the YMCA, the Yellowstone Montana Cowboy Academy, offering a broad range of courses including roping and riding but also table setting, skin care, and theology.


GK: Okay. Got em in the canyon there. Guess I'll be headin out. You sure you're gonna be okay for the weekend, Dusty?

TR: No problem. You go ahead.

GK: I feel kinda guilty about leaving you with all the work just so I can go off to New York and sing in that darned talent contest.

TR: That's okay. You go off and get it out of your system, Lefty. Do it and get it over with and then come back and don't say another word about it. Okay, pardner?

GK: Okay.

TR: You been mopin' around here for months, talking about how you never got your chance at the big time. So now's your chance.

GK: Well, I appreciate you filling in for me so I could go to New York and do it.

TR: That's what friends are for.

GK: What if I don't come back, Dusty? What if I win the contest and the fame that goes with it and it's the start of a whole big performing career for me and I get my own bus and a band called the Ranchhands and a sort of creamy-colored suit with sequins tastefully arrayed on the lapels and I have some hits that go platinum and I get on the cover of the New York Times magazine as a harbinger of a whole new trend in sensibility?

TR: I believe it's pronounced HAR-binjer. Not HAR-binger.

GK: You sure?

TR: Positive.

GK: Harbinjer?

TR: Right. But you're not going to be doing any harbinjing because you ain't going to win, Lefty.

GK: I ain't?

TR: Nope. There's going to be some eight-year-old child with long blonde hair come out in a blue pinafore and sing "His Eye Is On The Sparrow" and that'll be it. Trust me. Or there'll be a yodeller. Or they'll have a teenage Celtic band. It ain't going to go to some old cowboy with big hairy eyebrows and his gut hanging over his belt. Trust me on that.

GK: Harbinjer. Are you sure?

TR: There ain't no chance of you winning, so don't let your mind dwell on it, you'll only be disappointed and come back here moodier than ever.

GK: You think I should trim my eyebrows?

TR: I think you ain't going to win no matter what so forget it.

GK: I got a good song I'm going to sing. Only problem is, what if they ask me to sing two? I could do Lovesick Blues, I suppose.

TR: Don't worry. They won't.

GK: Anyway, win or lose, I'm hoping that Miss Evelyn Beebalo might be listening to the show wherever she is, bless her heart, and remember me, and send me a piece of fan mail, and I'll go visit her, and our old love'll be reignited.

TR: I'd say the chances of that are slightly less than the chance of you getting the bus and the band and becoming a harbinger.

GK: Have I been mispronouncing that all these years?

TR: You have.

GK: Why didn't you tell me?

TR: I didn't want to get you depressed.

GK: And now you do?

TR: I don't think you ought to be going to New York and standing up on a stage and talking about "harbingers" and have a whole audience laugh at you like you was an idiot.

GK: Now I wonder what other words I may be mispronouncing? Like "futile" or "prostate" or "facetious" or "arbitrage". I guess I'll just have to remember not to talk, just sing. (STRUM GUITAR, OFF-KEY CHORD)

TR: Oh boy. I was hoping to avoid this.

GK: Let me just tune this up here. (TUNING) If I can just remember what positions the pegs are supposed to be in. (STRUM) There. Close enough.

Each night I sit alone in my apartment
High above West End Avenue
Thinking of our Minnesota garden
Where we were so in love, me and you.

Sweetheart, do you also feel peculiar
Thinking of the pleasures of the past.
Longing for the end of the school year
When you and I will reunite at last.

When it's spring in St. Paul Minnesota
Just as on the day we were betrothed
There is nowhere else I'd rather gota
Especially if I think of you unclothed.

I am your singer, a happy harbinger
I know that spring is coming very soon.
When the garden blooms in Minnesota
Underneath that Minnesota moon.

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

TR: Somehow I figured that.

GK: Now I got to find something to rhyme with "harbinger". Like ginger. Or injure.

TR: How about "I am an omen/Of a growing abdomen"?

GK: No, thanks. I'll see you in a few days, Dusty. Unless, of course, I win.

TR: Mister, I wouldn't worry about that if I were you.


SS: THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS......brought to you by the American Cowboy Liberals United.....the ACLU.....did you know that after a long day in the saddle, you have the right to smell anyway you choose to smell? Know your Cowboy Rights.....(MUSIC OUT)

(c) 2000 by Garrison Keillor