Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard. A performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
March 4 in Kent, OH Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard. A performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
Keillor & Company: A PRAIRIE HOME HOLIDAY. Let’s come together for a Christmas sing-along, some Poetry, the News from Lake Wobegon and some holiday cheer with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard.
Dec 11 in Joliet, IL Keillor & Company: A PRAIRIE HOME HOLIDAY. Let’s come together for a Christmas sing-along, some Poetry, the News from Lake Wobegon and some holiday cheer with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard.
Dec 10 in Ottumwa Iowa Keillor & Company: A PRAIRIE HOME HOLIDAY. Let’s come together for a Christmas sing-along, some Poetry, the News from Lake Wobegon and some holiday cheer with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard.
How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth
by John Milton
How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,
Stol’n on his wing my three and twentieth year!
My hasting days fly on with full career,
But my late spring no bud or blossom shew’th.
Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth,
That I to manhood am arrived so near,
And inward ripeness doth much less appear,
That some more timely-happy spirits endu’th.
Yet be it less or more, or soon or slow,
It shall be still in strictest measure even
To that same lot, however mean or high,
Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heaven;
All is, if I have grace to use it so,
As ever in my great Taskmaster’s eye.
“How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth” by John Milton. Public domain. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of an early writer of the American Southwest, Mary Hunter Austin (books by this author), born in Carlinville, Illinois (1868). As a nine-year-old girl, she decided to be a writer. She also loved geology — she collected fossils, and at the age of 12, she studied geology in an adult education program for rural Americans. She went to college in Illinois, then moved with her family to California when they set out to homestead there.
She spent most of her life in California, in the desert on the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada. She was fascinated by everything: the geology, the plants and animals, the Native people, the weather, and the intense landscape of the desert. She wrote The Land of Little Rain (1903), a book of sketches about that part of the California desert. She said, “I was only a month writing … but I spent 12 years peeking and prying before I began it.”
The Land of Little Rain was a big success and Austin wrote many more books — novels, plays, and essays — including The Arrow Maker (1911), Experiences Facing Death (1931), and One-Smoke Stories (1934).
Today is the birthday of Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, better known as Leo Tolstoy (1828) (books by this author), the Russian novelist responsible for two of the world’s most enduring novels, War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877).
Tolstoy was born in Tula, about 120 miles south of Moscow. His family was wealthy and his childhood was idyllic: he went swimming and sledding and indulged his love for reading in his father’s extensive library. He even stitched together an 18-page booklet titled “Grandfather’s Tales,” in which he wrote down some of the more memorable stories his grandfather had told him. Tolstoy’s parents died while he was still young, and he was raised by relatives. At Kazan University (1844) he learned several languages but failed to finish. One instructor said he was “both unable and unwilling to learn.”
He spent several years writing in a diary, drinking, gambling, racking up huge debts, and visiting brothels until his brother convinced him to join the army. His experiences in the war profoundly affected his spiritual views and sowed the seeds for his later conversion to pacifism. His ideas on nonviolence became strong influences on Mohandas Gandhi and the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.
Tolstoy already had three acclaimed novels under his belt, Childhood (1852), Boyhood (1854), and Youth (1856), by the time he married Sophia Andreyevna. She was 18 to his 34 and, in the spirit of full disclosure, he presented her with his diaries a week before their marriage. She read, with horror, of his many sexual exploits with serfs, including one that resulted in a son. Nevertheless, she married him.
He vowed that he “would not have any women in our village, except for rare chances, which I would neither seek nor prevent.” Sophia found his estate in disarray: beds without blankets, dinnerware old and cracked, rooms in disrepair. She bore him 13 children, breastfeeding each one at his insistence even though it caused her unbearable physical pain. She began to keep her own diary. She wrote, “His heart is so icy.”
It took Tolstoy six years to complete War and Peace (1869). Sophia painstakingly rewrote each draft, nine revisions in all. He even made her a special tray so that she could write while sitting up in bed, recovering from puerperal fever. At almost 1,400 pages it is one of the longest books ever written.
In his diary he wrote, “I feel that she is depressed, but I’m more depressed still, and I can’t say anything to her — there’s nothing to say. I’m just cold, and I clutch at any work with ardor.”
She wrote, “I am afraid to talk to him or look at him. I am sure he must suddenly have realized just how vile and pathetic I am.”
Sophia began a years long ritual of copying out Tolstoy’s diaries so that she could better understand him. She hid hers, but he continually found and read them. He left her after 48 years, escaping with their youngest daughter on a train, after writing a secret will renouncing his worldly possessions. He died a week later at the station master’s home, with Sophia at the door begging to be let in.
Anna Karenina, which many consider a finer novel than War and Peace, begins, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
Today is the birthday of American singer and songwriter Otis Redding (1941), best known for soulful songs like “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” “Try a Little Tenderness,” “These Arms of Mine,” and “Respect,” which became a signature song for Aretha Franklin.
Redding was born in Dawson, Georgia. He showed musical promise early, singing in the Vineville Baptist Church and learning guitar, drums, and piano. Every Sunday he earned $6.00 performing gospel songs for radio station WIBB in Macon. In 1958 he took part in Hamp Swain’s hugely popular “The Teenage Party” talent contests at the Roxy and Douglass Theatres in Macon, singing Little Richard’s “Heeby Jeebies.” He won the contest for 15 weeks straight.
It was when he agreed to drive his friend Johnny Jenkins to a recording session at Stax Studios in Memphis that his life changed. Jenkins’s session fell flat, and Redding convinced the producers to let him have a turn. He sang “These Arms of Mine.” Jim Stewart, the studio chief, said: “There was something different about [the ballad]. He really poured his soul into it.” The song was released in 1962 and sold more than 800,000 copies.
Otis Redding recorded six albums during the 1960s. He became so successful that he bought a 300-acre ranch in Georgia and named it “Mr. Pitiful” after one of his ballads. He owned 200 suits and 400 pairs of shoes and when he performed at the Monterey Pop Festival during the Summer of Love (1967) Janis Joplin introduced him by saying, “This is God that’s coming on stage here.”
He wrote one of his most famous songs, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” after listening to the Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. He added a distinctive whistle at the end. Three days after recording the song Otis Redding died (1967) when his plane crashed outside Madison, Wisconsin. He was 26 years old. Some 4,500 people came to his funeral. “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” was released after his death and sold over a million copies.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®