← Older    Browsing Music

Woebegone Man

Idiot wind

Disgraced NPR icon, Garrison Keillor. (Photo by Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times - cropped)There are at least three reasons for my posting this just three days after my gone-off-the-rails DIP screed. First, I want to knock the impolitical and irreligious canker off my front page. Not that I’ve had a change of heart (I stand by everything I wrote), but because the mean-spirited post is just more of the predictable hypocrite-bashing that may scratch my persistent itch, but does no good otherwise. So I’ve buried it a bit. Second, Keillor asked for this, believe me (read on). Third, the video linked by yesterday’s Star-Tribune story–the one that inspired this post–is too good to not share and, to me, an eloquent rebuttal of the hoary old liberal embarrassment’s claim.

Blowing every time you move your teeth

I was a fan of Keillor’s before I moved to Minnesota from California. It didn’t take me long to understand that he wasn’t always loved by his state mates. I put it down to hurt feelings from the sense that he was holding them up to ridicule, something I understood even though I felt his caricatures were basically gentle and loving. He painted a lovely picture of the mythical Mist County, I thought. I continued to read and enjoy his novels and radio broadcasts until a few years ago.[1]

Soon after Keillor heard the call of the loon and returned to his home state from his self-imposed exile in New York City, I started to hear stories about his boorish ego. Quite a few people I knew personally had interacted with him, or knew of people who had, and their stories suggested he was less than “Minnesota nice.” Maybe his introversion accounts for some of it, I thought. Not all of it though. Just a few days ago, unsolicited, a friend shared with me an anecdote about meeting Keillor briefly during a concert intermission where, “he felt compelled, apropos of nothing, to comment on the revealing attire of one of the young first violinists.”

Keillor’s reputation is in tatters now. His #metoo reckoning resulted in his firing by MPR (Minnesota Public Radio) in 2017. Initially MPR divulged little about the evidence they had, and his defenders were unhappy about it. MPR responded by publishing a series of stories that exposed disturbing allegations. These remain allegations, as there was no court case and no admission of guilt. But he is in exile again. He sold his St Paul bookstore and his Summit Avenue mansion in the same city–a few blocks from where his hero F Scott Fitzgerald lived. He may have left the state, I don’t know.

Earlier this year I jabbed at Keillor when I ran into his name in an article I was using to poke fun at Wilt Chamberlain in a blog post. I wasn’t mean-spirited about it, I hope, but it was written and posted after his firing which was could be seen as piling on. But I had nothing personal against him (which is not to say I condoned the behavior of which he was accused or disbelieved his accusers). I didn’t and don’t know him. In 25 years in the Twin Cities I have only run into him once, at of all places a Bob Dylan concert.[2]

You’re an idiot baby

I don’t have to equivocate any longer about my opinion of Mr Keillor. He is an idiot.[3]

The aforementioned story in the Star-Tribune quotes from Keillor’s new book. He writes that he is often asked why he never had Dylan as a guest on The Prairie Home Companion, and he says he has always answered, “Because I don’t care to be associated with him, that’s why.” Nevermind that Dylan never accepts such invitations. Whatever. It was Keillor’s show, he was free to invite or not invite anyone. The not caring to associate with him? Shrug. Dylan is a prickly personality at best. He might have bolted at the last second at the sight of Keillor’s red tennis shoes. But in his book, the hoary old (alleged) lecher goes further. From the Strib:

“I think that ‘My Back Pages’ is one of the worst songs ever written,” he continues. “I could name others. It’s no wonder he took a pseudonym, so as to avoid bringing shame on the Zimmerman family.”

Because it’s a book of poems, Keillor can’t resist sharing one he penned in “honor” of the Nobel Prize winner:

There is a songwriter named Bob
Who makes some people’s hearts throb
They find a thrill in
Listening to Dylan
And for me it’s more like a job.

I’ve written a limerick in Keillor’s honor:

   Of a bitter old writer named Gary
   Younger women have cause to be wary
   With wit faded and flaccid
   He spends time spewing acid
   At one whose boots he’s not fit to carry.

It’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe

Rock-and-roll hall-of-famers Roger McGuinn, Tom Petty, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, and George Harrison take turns singing lead on an extended version of A1 on the Chatterbox Cafe’s jukebox, Dylan’s “My Back Pages.”



  1. The mythical Mist County is (not really) located near St Cloud, Minnesota. The people Keillor describes in his county do not seem as horrifyingly racist as a seemingly significant minority of the all-too-real city are. [^]
  2. This concert took place before Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Significant? Jealousy? [^]
  3. This post is almost entirely tongue-in-cheek. NO, I don’t consider a man’s poor taste in music to compare in any respect to the seriousness of sexual harassment. [^]


← Older    browsing Music