A Prairie Home Companion Segment 17 for June 28, 2014
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TR: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets, but one man is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions --- Guy Noir, Private Eye.


GK: It was the end of June and I was about to head north for some walleye fishing when I got a call from Tanglewood.....

TR: Mr. Noir, it's John McClure calling.

GK: John McClure the record producer.

TR: Yes.

GK: John McClure who produced all those great Bruno Walter and Stravinsky and Leonard Bernstein recordings.

TR: Yes. Listen, I'm a beekeeper up here and I've been breeding a species of bee that can sing.

GK: Really.

TR: I'm building a choir of them. Ten thousand singing bees.

GK: Are they Mormon?

TR: I haven't asked. Anyway, I'm thinking that musical animals is the next big thing in classical music. Have you ever heard dogs do Gershwin?

GK: Never have.

TR: I'm holding auditions Friday. Unfortunately my allergies have kicked in and I need help.

GK: I'll do my best. (BRIDGE) So I found a cheap ticket, Minnesota to the Berkshires, aboard Baroque Airlines. (BING BONG)


My name is Sarah McKay.

I'll be your flight attendant today.

On this authentic period aeroplane

There is no safety equipment at all

But we fly low so it's not that far to fall. (BING BONG)

FN: This is your pilot Wendell H. Jaeger here in the cockpit. Here to provide you with an authentic flight exactly as it would've been done in 1915. And so the flight to the Berkshires will take eighteen hours and we'll stop six times to refuel. Contact!!! (PROPELLER START ATTEMPT) Other way! Other way! Contact! (PROPELLER START) (BRIDGE)

GK: I made it out to the Berkshires and the village of Stockbridge, home of Norman Rockwell, where they pay

freckle-face boys with cowlicks to walk down the street with cane fishing poles (FN: Howdy, mister) and I went out to Tanglewood where Mr. McClure was sitting in his car with the windows rolled up.

TR (MUFFLED): Sorry. It's my allergies. (BIG SNEEZE)

GK: I'll start the auditions without you, sir.

TR (MUFFLED): Thank you. (BRIDGE)

GK: There was a man with a troupe of singing pigeons, fourteen of them perched on his left arm, and each one let out a note as he squeezed it. (SQUEEZED PIGEONS PERFORMING BACH) There was a dancing dog who sang songs from West Side Story (DOG BARKS "TONIGHT"). There was a singing sheep. (FN SHEEP: Hey Jude, don't make it b-a-a-a-a-ad, take a s-a-a-a-aad song and make it better) . There were two ducks who sang

"Rock of Ages" in duet (DUCKS). There was a women's trio holding a loon.

RM: We came down from Winnipeg. We're the Manitoba Women's Vocal Ensemble.

GK: And the loon sings?

RM: Sometimes. We specialize in doing Waylon Jennings songs.

GK: Oh really. Like what?

WJ (SINGS): Mamas, don't bring your babies up to be cowboys.

GK: Not bad. So the loon doesn't sing on that song.

RM: No.

GK: What else you do?

WJ (SING): O rainy day boyfriend, never seem to see you in the good times, when the sun shines, you have been a friend to me, rainy day boyfriend.

GK: It's nice but maybe you need to find a new name for yourselves.

NM: What's wrong with the Manitoba Women's Vocal Ensemble?

GK: It sounds uptight. Not right for outlaw music.

NM: What would you suggest?

GK: Maybe just call yourself Waylon Jennings.

RM: But we don't only do Waylon Jennings. We also do Tammy Wynette.

GK: Oh.

WJ (SING): Stand by your man....give him two arms to cling to....(LOON CALLS)

GK: It's nice but Mr. McClure is looking for more of an animal performance.

RM: Oh. Okay. -Thanks for listening.

GK: The singing is good, but think about a name change. ---- And how about you, sir?

RF: Listen, I know this may seem trashy to you but I have three cats who sing Gershwin in harmony----

GK: Uh huh.

RF: I call them O Meow Babbino Caro.

GK: I like the name. (DIGI CAT GERSHWIN) Very nice, very nice.

RF: I also have three chickens who do Gershwin. Called The Pullet Surprise. Listen. (DIGIS, CLUCK CHORD) (PIANO, CLUCKING TRIO)

GK: There seems to be a certain similarity between the cats and the chickens.

RF: They all grew up in the same barnyard. And also these three dogs. I call them the Ruths.

GK: The Ruths----

RF: Yes. You see, I took them into a cafe once and the waiter said, "No dogs allowed" and I told him they could talk and he said, "Oh yeah" and I said to this one, "What's the opposite of smooth?" And she said, "RUFF." And I asked this one, "What do you call the top side of a house?" And she said, "ROOF." And I asked this one, "Who was the greatest hitter in the history of baseball?" And she said, "RUTH." And the waiter said, "Get those mutts out of here." And we went outside. And she said, "What was I supposed to say? Ty Cobb?"

GK: Well, that explains the name all right. Anyway.


GK: Thanks. We'll let you know. (BRIDGE) I found Mr. McClure in his barn with a jar full of bumblebees. (BEES SINGING "ODE TO JOY") ---- some pretty talented bees you've got there, sir.

TR: Thank you. I trained them myself.

GK: And they don't live long, do they.

TR: I have to replace them all about every month.

GK: What's their repertoire?

TR: Just this song. "Ode to Joy" and The Flight of the Bumblebee. And "In A Gadda La Vida".

GK: Quite a repertoire.

TR: Unfortunately by the time they learn all three, they die. So they never get the recognition they deserve.

GK: Maybe you should just have them learn one song.

TR: Then I'd be cheating them of the experience. Listen to this.


They love doing that number. Love it. And then they're gone. It's tragic.

GK: I don't know. What is art to a bee?

TR: To be or not to be ---- either way, it's art. (WOOF) Come here, Art.

GK: Your dog is Art?

TR: Right.

GK: What does he do?

TR: We don't know yet. He knows but we don't.


SS: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets but one man is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions....Guy Noir, Private Eye.