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Host Garrison Keillor answers your questions about life, love, writing, authors, and of course, A Prairie Home Companion.

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October 3, 2007 | 3 Comments

Post to the Host:
I noticed you mentioned on today's show (9/29) that you no longer drink alcohol. Is that true? As someone who has struggled with staying sober, I always feel in good company when public figures disclose that they are sober. I envision you as the type sitting at W.A. Frost, sipping a Tanqueray martini on the patio (as I have done one too many times), but maybe that is not so. I would enjoy it if you could elaborate on your experiences. Thank you.

St. Paul

It's not a very interesting story, Steve. I just stopped one day about five years ago while on a cruise to Alaska with my family. Didn't mention it to anybody, just decided, "Whoa. You've done this long enough." One of those spasms of reform that we old Sanctified Brethren go in for. I loved alcohol and enjoyed martinis especially and also Italian red wine, Scotch and bourbon, and gin and tonic, but a person gets tired of wondering if he is drinking too much and so you just knock it off. It's easy to not drink so long as you don't drink. You simply make the decision to resume so enormous that you don't quite have the strength for it. But I don't like to talk about it. My beloved old editor Roger Angell once said to me, over martinis, "Whatever you do, don't stop drinking." He was tired of listening to his recovering pals. I am happy to mix drinks for anybody and I keep good stuff around, I just don't take any myself. But when I turn 70, I plan to get back to it.


Mr. Sheen's rendition of "How Can I Keep From Singing" had the most impact on me of any rendition of this song I've ever heard because it helped me hear the words so effectively and thus the intended message. I have heard other very beautiful versions of this song but none so effective at speaking to my heart.
Mr. Keillor, I can understand that working in the business you do it can become more a matter of getting the parts together and on the air and dealing with the personalities of celebrities. Please allow yourself some way to listen and be moved by the music as we are able on our receiving end of your broadcast.
Thank you for allowing us to hear the sound of people's souls.
Ron Myers

I turned on my car radio and heard only this one incandescent slice of your show: Martin sang and I wept.

Martin Sheen is always worth listening to, I find, even on the rare occasions where I don't quite agree with him. This time he blew me away with his rendition of "How can I keep from singing?", a hymn I had never heard before.

There was something strangely powerful in his performance. Mr. Sheen is clearly not a singer and while others might have performed the song with better musicianship, I found it all the more moving, an experience of passion and compassion, because I not only focused on the words, but on his emotion. His dedication of the song to the people struggling for democracy in Myanmar or Burma was spot on. The people there, including Buddhist monks, who are risking everything in speaking out and standing up for what is right and just, deserve our attention and support.

Thank you, Mr. Sheen, for the gift of that song, which I will now be singing myself. It brought tears to my eyes and made me think of the fictional Jed Bartlet, whose words as a ficitonal character, from time to time, brought tears to my eyes in much the same way.

Bravo, I say, for sharing the song with the world.

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