Garrison Keillor performs Radio Man


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As Garrison Keillor prepares to say goodbye to “A Prairie Home Companion,” he returned to 92Y to share poems, songs and stories of his long love affair with New York City. This is his poem, “Radio Man.”

I’m a radio man for forty-some years
Doing an old variety show
Based on some I used to hear
When I was your age long ago.

Critics pointed out my debts
To Fibber McGee and Bob and Ray
But alcohol and cigarettes
Swept those critics all away.

And to twenty-year-olds who were born
Too late to hear the great Fred Allen,
I’m the inventor of the form,
Sailing the airwaves like Magellen.

A thief who escapes and is not hung
May yet be honored by the young.

The secret of a long career is to keep going and not fade
And not think about your reputation even for one minute.
It’s like becoming the tallest boy in the 6th grade,
You stick around and you’re bound to win it.

Dostoyevsky over time found a punishment to fit the crime.
And slowly as a centipede trots off,
He wrote The Brothers Karamazov.

Mrs. Joyce cried out in bliss,
“He’s finally finished with Ulysses!”
James had a smoke and took a break
And started in on Finnegans Wake

So do your work
Keep going straight ahead
And you may be a genius someday
After you are dead.