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August 9, 2007 | 13 Comments

A Note from Garrison Keillor:
Thank you for all the birthday wishes this week. I was in New York for the occasion and it sort of slipped by without my noticing and then that evening my New York nieces took me way downtown for dinner at one of those very hip restaurants where the clientele look like homeless people, or unproduced playwrights, but they don't blink at paying $23 for the monkfish and $9 for a glass of Pinot Noir, and then at the conclusion of dinner the waitress (in her black horn-rimmed glasses and crewcut) came sashaying out with a slice of chocolate cake and a candle in it and everybody kindly refrained from singing. I was easily the oldest person in the joint. And so what? Somebody's got to be. And it may as well be me as some person who is all jerked around about their age, like the 35-year-old guy with the three-day growth of beard sitting at the next table picking at his quail and telling his girlfriend that he is thinking about calling up the guy who taught that songwriting course, remember? The one Mr. Thirty-Five took a few years ago? He is thinking he might send him a CD but first he has to get a couple hours of studio time from Sean so he can re-do a couple of those songs. This poor yoink is trying to be twenty-one but he feels more like fifty. Deep in his heart, he knows that 35 is too late to be launching a career singing songs about your broken heart. You've got to get started when you're young, when you hardly can imagine what a broken heart is like. No, bubba, your career is over and meanwhile what do you have? You've got this terrific girlfriend. You ought to earn some money and save it toward a house, not be spending $23 on a serving of quail. There are thousands of 35-year-olds in Syracuse and Utica and Buffalo who figured out a long time ago that they were not major songwriters and they are way ahead of you. And she knows this.

And now she glances over at me, the old guy (what? Forty-five? Fifty?) drinking his espresso and the two babes in their mid-twenties, and her eyes widened in wonder. What is his secret? she wondered. I'll tell you: it's heredity and good luck and a positive attitude. Onward.


Just to add my congrats on your recent birthday. Your book and shows are a backbone I have depended on for years. Keep it up!

"What is his secret? she wondered. I'll tell you: it's heredity and good luck and a positive attitude. Onward."

Absolutely. Onward, for many more years.

What a wonderful way to spend your
Out here in California we have
lots of fellows (and women!)like
the one you described. Why? Well,
it's mostly our fault -- we baby
boomers. We told them how great
they were and gave them everything
and now nothing satisfies them.
What can we do?
I've discovered one small way to
help the future generation.
At our school (a child development
center where we serve 100 families
from 20 different countries)we have
a saying -- "You get what you get and
you don't throw a fit."
We begin the chant at age 2 1/2 and
by the time they are 5, they're pretty
good at being satisfied with what
they are given (which is still much
compared to most).
It's a small thing, but greatly needed
in our entitled consumer society.
Sandy (San Clemente, CA)

Mr. Keillor ...

Many happy returns on the recent birthday, and many more to come!

Jack Bagley
LaGrange, GA


Your experience in New York reminds me of this past St. Patrick's Day when a friend and I spent some time at the neighborhood Irish pub. We are both relatively young (I'm 32, he's 35 - both with lovely wives and kids), but in the pub on the evening of St. Patrick's Day we were the oldest beside the owner of the pub. I kid you not. We had a grand time drinking Guinness and Harp's, but it made us realize that despite our thinking that we are still young, the perception of those younger than us is that, well, we are "old." I, however, beg to differ.

Happy belated birthday.


At first I thought you were being ridiculous about 35 being too old to start a songwriting career (how could 35 be too old to start to do anything??) then I remembered that practically every musician I know of do their best work in their early twenties and it's all straight downhill and over a cliff from there; I'm not quite sure why, but it does appear to be the truth. Except for Irving Berlin or Gershwin, though, I forgot about them. Hmmm. On second thought, I'm not at all sure why you think 35 is too old to begin songwriting or why this guy should just give up trying to do what he wants and indenture himself to a mortgage while chaining himself to this woman. Maybe this guy is way ahead of the "thousands of 35-year-olds in Syracuse and Utica and Buffalo" because he elected not to bury himself alive in places like that, where you're expected to indenture yourself to a mortgage and chain yourself to a woman by age 35. And his girlfriend knows this.

Warmest regards on your recent birthday. A sense of humor also helps. For many years,(and I'm a still youthful 51) I have answered the " I'll be with you in a minute" with " No problem. I have nothing to do but age".

They give the double take,and then they laugh. Even those crewcut,all black wearing,little square glasses bearing, slightly pretentious NYC'ers.


Happy Birthday! You bring such levity to my otherwise dreary day in prison (as an employee). I hope you enjoyed you day and I look forward to spending many years with you in the written form.

Belated but nonetheless sincere, Happy Birthday. Looking forward to many more years of delightful entertainment from you (in the best sense).

Yes! Just being alive is still very wonderful at 69. My guess is just about the time we get this thing called life sorta figured out, we move onto the next one.


I'm glad you have found some perspective on your momentous birthday and growing older. Congratulations on the milestone, and I hope you now will refrain from posting so many poems on your literary website about the downsides of growing old, and stop going on so much about being an "old coot" in your newspaper columns! I know they say to "write what you know," but when you go on and on about something like that, all it does is remind everyone about how crotchety you really can be! You've got a lot of life in you yet, God willing.

Lovely that they would take you out...and to 'their' place of action...enjoy the companionship, and yes, it is like waking up suddenly and finding those wrinkles you don't wish were there, a couple more aches and pains, and wonderful that they would take you out...just wonderful, you don't know how lucky you are!!! I didn't hear any complains about your physical so you're doin better than I at sixty.

They aren't birthdays- they are anniversaries with that person you love enough to make it through the good times and bad times, that person you know everything about, you can't hide things from for very long, you ultimatley must always forgive, and in the the only one who is always there, for better or worse. :) I just turned 30 and I revolve my Sundays around listening to your show and hope to see you live within the next year--- I absolutely LOVE Prairie Home Companion and can't imagine it without you so stay healthy, look both ways before you cross the street...and go organic!!! (Even though I don't)

Viv Austin Texas

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