Thursday, May 1, 2008

Prairie Home Companion and the Simple Things in Life

First there was a simple radio program. Then there were books, tapes, cds, music, tshirts and assorted other paraphernalia. If you go to the Mall of America in Minnesota you can find a store called Lake Wobegon USA. It is filled with Prairie Home merchandise. There are even duct tape and Powder Milk Biscuit souvenirs. Now there has even been a movie with lots of famous movie stars in it. All of this celebrates one very simple phenomenon- simplicity.

Now Garrison Keillor, the host, star and writer of Prairie Home Companion is unusual. He is funny, witty and ironic. He is simple in a very complicated way. The humor is sophisticated in a homespun kind of way. He tells stories about small town life, Lake Wobegone, Minnesota, that we small town midwesterners can identify with, but is tells them in urbane ways with language and wit that the city person in all of us can hear.

When Keillor tells us about the struggles of Pastor Enqvist, our Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility, we church people are not offended. We have had those experiences. And we trust our host. He speaks with integrity. He has created people, churches, businesses, a town that we can easily believe is real.

A Prairie Home Companion is chock full of Bluegrass music, folk stories and corny jokes. There are talent contests and very few celebrities. Special guests are seldom one time visitors. We get to know those guests because we have heard them sing several times before. We like them. We cheer for them.

The key to Prairie Home Companion? Two things:
  • It is about home. These are people that I know. Well, I don't know these people, but I know some others just like them. I may not be friendly with all those people, but I am comfortable with them. They are familiar to me.
  • It is simple. Our world is over-hyped and over blitzed on every side. It is completely refreshing to hear Keillor sing (almost well) and make us laugh without ever saying a naughty word.

I love A Prairie Home Companion. It is on Saturday nights on National Public Radio.

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