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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Garrison Keillor Takes on Bob Dylan, Humor, and the Pledge of Allegiance

Keillor is a humorist and takes his business very seriously.

Garrison Keillor performed that the Smith Center in Las Vegas a couple months ago and a big part of the show, besides erudite wit delivered in his unmistakable smooth bass voice, was a trip into the audience to sing old songs with the crowd.  

He evidently has continued these sing-alongs, as he writes in The Washington Post this week. He’s been,

doing a dog-and-pony show that, among many other things, included me walking into the crowd and humming a note and the audience singing, a cappella, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty” and singing very well, sometimes awfully well, and if so, we swung into “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” “Love Me Tender” and two verses of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” including the one about sounding forth a trumpet and the jubilant feet.

I can attest that people get emotional when they sing together. It does indeed warm the heart,

when you stand in a crowd and sing about the purple mountains and the buffalo roaming and grace that taught my heart to fear and the Red River Valley, roses loving sunshine, singing in the rain and the bright golden haze in the meadow, it does pull people together no matter how they feel about the Second Amendment.

What he doesn’t write about is that he and Bob Dylan are both from Minnesota. During his Las Vegas show, Keillor tells the story (true or not) of Dylan running some lyrics by him, specifically, “lay lady lay.” Keillor told us, “I pointed out to Bob that ‘lay’ is a transitive verb” and thus to be grammatically correct, it should be “lie lady lie.”

Well, we know what happened, Dylan now holds the Nobel Prize in Literature.  In his column of October 25, 2016, Keillor writes, “Bob is embarrassed by the prize. He’s from Minnesota, he has a conscience. He has written a few good love songs and some memorable phrases and the Swedes have embraced him as if he were Homer, which he is not.”

Over the years I’ve wondered about the idea of pledging allegiance to the flag. I’ve been to enough Rotary Club-like meetings where saying the pledge is the first order of business, but can’t bring myself to mouth the words or place hand over heart. I figure standing and being quiet is enough.

I’m delighted Keillor feels the same.  He writes,

The Pledge of Allegiance is a mystery to me, promising fealty to a piece of cloth — and “to the republic for which it stands” — what does that mean? Am I granting my support of gerrymandering, suppression of voting, rivers of campaign cash to buy time on the airwaves that belong to the people? I said the pledge in grade school. I don’t say it anymore. You can’t make me.

Of course, I would add I don’t support taxation, warmongering, regulation to strangulation, asset forfeiture, and every other government transgression against individual liberty.

In the October 2016 column mentioned above Keillor writes that the Mark Twain Prize for American Comedy Humor should go to someone who actually writes, because, after all, Twain was primarily a writer.  “He gave lectures for money to pay his debts when he was broke, but literature was his calling.”

Keillor then nominates Carl Hiaasen, “a wildly humorous author from Florida who writes his books all by his own self, he does not hire writers as many of the Twain Prize winners do.”

Having just finished Hiaasen’s Strip Tease I support Keillor’s choice wholeheartedly.  I pledge to you that Hiassen’s rollicking tale of strippers, government sugar subsidies, and rotten politicians will make you stand up and laugh, during the pledge of allegiance, if necessary.  

Reprinted from