Lenny Bernstein, twenty-two
Pants were pressed and his shirt was new
Rode the bus to western Mass,
Trees and hills and meadow grass
To Tanglewood outside Lenox,
Where all the houses are photogenic.
Came to study with the BSO
And Koussevitsky, who was a god, you know.

Dear Leonard Bernstein, your music career
Took you round the world and it started right here
A young man who stepped up and took the baton
And the moment you took it you were gone.
You were gone, you were gone, you were so far gone,
People could feel it on the lawn.

Did he have an ego? Yes, of course.
Ego big as all outdoors
Played all night and talked all day,
The star of party and soiree.
But when he stood here on the stage
You felt the force of every page
Leonard Bernstein had the fire
Hotter, brighter, jumping higher

Dear Leonard Bernstein, there's no forgetting.
You tried to be the bride at everyone's wedding.
You were the rabbi, you were the priest,
You were the master of the feast.
Of the feast, of the feast, of the musical feast,
You were beauty and you were the beast.
Dear Leonard Bernstein, you were so good
Though your life was tangled out in the woods,
But to music and players you always were true.
Hey Leonard Bernstein, thank you.

© Garrison Keillor 2002