St. Michael, MN
GARRISON KEILLOR and some friends from Prairie Home Poetry, Stories, and Classic Duets Featuring: Prudence Johnson Bob Douglas and Adam Granger Dan Chouinard, music director CHANGE: JULY 4, 2021, 4:00 PM Le Musique Music Room 4300 O’Day Ave. NE, St. Michael, MN 55376 $42/$15 Due to the extreme heat, we have moved this concert […]
GARRISON KEILLOR and some friends from Prairie Home Poetry, Stories, and Classic Duets Featuring: Prudence Johnson Bob Douglas and Adam Granger Dan Chouinard, music director July 2, 2021, 7:30 PM BIG TOP CHAUTAUQUA, BAYFIELD, WI Reserved $60/$52/$42 SOLD OUT Live Stream available (only 7/2 7:30PM) The Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua is a 900-seat […]
Just Added: Stillwater, MN 6-29
GARRISON KEILLOR and some friends from Prairie Home Poetry, Stories, and Classic Duets Featuring: Prudence Johnson Bob Douglas and Adam Granger Dan Chouinard, music director JUST ADDED June 29, 2021, 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM THE AVALON, STILLWATER, MN St. Croix Boat & Packet Co., 525 Main Street South, Stillwater, MN 55082 DINNER, CRUISE, […]
Las Vegas, NV
May 20, 2020
Garrison Keillor hits Las Vegas with a new solo show!
American culture took a sharp turn when the guitar took supremacy over the keyboard. I was a teenager, I remember it. Little Richard sat down at the piano in 1955 and tore the joint apart with “Tutti Frutti” (A wop bop a loo bop, a lop bam boom!) and Jerry Lee Lewis did the same with “Great Balls of Fire” but Elvis, who could play piano, picked up a guitar as a prop, and a nice Jewish kid in Hibbing, Minnesota, decided to be an alienated loner cowboy poet and a whole generation of loner heroes with Stratocasters blew in on the wind and there went the ball game.
The piano is not a loner instrument. It requires a piano tuner and piano movers. It is a piece of furniture. Playing piano implies home ownership. You can’t put it on the back of your motorcycle. The piano has social standing; it belongs in church or school or a barroom. It is an instrument around which people gather. Whereas the guitar became an ax, a weapon. Your parents wanted you to take piano lessons with Mrs. Lindquist but you went to a junk shop and bought a Sears Silvertone used for $7 and got a Mel Bay chord book and sat in your bedroom and taught yourself to play a G chord and a D7 and then started writing your own songs, about being misunderstood and mistreated and hoping to find a woman to leave this town with and head down the highway.
The guitar took over during the Eisenhower administration but Ike was a general, not a guitarist, but a half-century later a loner with rock ’n’ roll hair put together a slim majority of alienated voters despite persecution by witch hunts and media conspiracies, and he was adored by enormous crowds and he was golden in their adoration. He never was an accompanist, he was himself, a star and genius, a winner, a hero. He played screaming guitar solos though he never touched a string.
People were sick of government, of process and tradition and all that mickeymouse. Done with it. Bobby Zimmerman never intended to take over his dad’s appliance business and join the Hibbing Jaycees. My generation was suspicious of all things corporate and we enjoyed guitar fantasies like Bobby’s, of leaving town and following our heart and becoming an artist, letting our hair grow long, wearing cowboy clothes, making our own rules, living free.
I know people who wound up leading regimented lives in large organizations who nonetheless imagined themselves as loner cowboys and maybe this is why my generation screwed the country up so royally. Brilliant loners invented the PC and the cell phone but in the fields of social betterment requiring consensus, we’re a mess, and this is what opened the door to an angry alienated rock ’n’ roll president. (Uncle Joe is the opposite of alienated; he’s a sing-along guy.)
I make no judgment about any of this. I think old people should leave politics to the young and spend our time dozing on a porch and watching for scarlet tanagers. This is not about politics, it’s about instruments. I feel the nation needs more pianists.
I went to a Bruce Springsteen concert once where he sat solo on stage and accompanied himself at the piano and sang new songs and you could feel the audience’s dissatisfaction, wanting the Boss to reach into that piano and pull out a guitar and play “Born To Run.” It was brave of him to do a show at the piano but they wanted him to be a standard alienated rock ’n’ roll hero.
Little Richard sang love songs to joyful gospel piano, full of gratitude and good feeling, and my generation chose the guitar and got moody and introspective and along came pseudo-intellectual stuff like “My Back Pages” and “Imagine” and “Sounds of Silence” and though the Beatles ventured into gospel with “Help!” the choice of alienation over joyfulness defined my generation and changed America. We were righteous heroes giving the finger to a world that didn’t appreciate us and we wound up electing a finger to the White House.
Well, I’m so much older now and I’ve unplugged my guitar and gotten reconciled with the world. I love all of you like brothers and sisters. Less is more; loss is gain. Thank you for everything, for the wop bop a loo bop, and all the shaking going on. It was all good. If this sounds crazy, well, too much love makes a man insane.