Post to the Host

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

Send GK Your Question »

Rhymin' Simon

May 29, 2008 | 8 Comments



Garrison,
As a regular listener, I have noticed that you have occasionally used Paul Simon's melodies with new lyrics. These offerings have been witty and I have enjoyed them very much. I am curious what, if any, feedback you have received from Paul Simon.

Jan H.
Lansing, Mi.

Jan, Mr. Simon is an American genius and has better things to do than worry about parodies of his work performed on a little old radio show from Minnesota that is not even worth suing and think of the terrible publicity. He is busy with his work and his family, as he should be, and is not a litigious person, not in the least.


8 Comments


Well, maybe Paul Simon is not litigious, but I'm sure his attorneys are! But as GK stated, it's not worth a hill of beans anyway. I've wondered if the Simon parodies were meant as a compliment to the songwriter or not? GK seems to sing Bob Dylan songs w/o affectation, although Tim Russell occasionally does the comic send-up of Dylan's voice in sketches. I'm sure both music legends are aware of GK and his "little old radio show" and like it as much as we commoners.


What an odd response. The query implies the possibility that Simon might have enjoyed the PHC versions, not that he would sue. What are we to make of GK's strange leap to defensiveness?


How could they not be aware of PHC? They must move in different circles than I do but I know a few famous people and they have radios! They live in this world too.
And It's a great question, what does Paul Simon for example think of the likes of GK doing his stuff on the radio? Paul, are you out there? I think it would be a natural if he were to appear on PCH sometime.


I agree with the previous comments--no one is implicating that Paul Simon would sue anyone. Having heard him on the show before, I'm sure his take on it would be positive.


For SK, whose post questions what lies behind GK's "leap."
- GK's response isn't odd; it's humorous. In point of fact, it appears that the "odd" response is your response to GK's response. That is, it's odd, unless you were/are unaware that GK and PHC purvey straight-faced delivery of humor. Have you been under the impression that PHC and GK are or have ever been serious?
THAT leap would be too ridiculous to even ... wait; I mean: I have a house in Lake Wobegon you might be interested in purchasing. In the current market, I'm practically giving it away. Please let me know if you've got any cash you'd like to proffer, because I'm sad to say that you can almost certainly convince me to give you the property at a price that's a steal.


Get him on the damn show!


As a response to SK: GK's response was humorous. The inherent danger in subtle, dry humor is that it can be missed, but its delicacy is what makes it so incredibly sweet. It would have been funny if GK had responded to the question of what feedback he had gotten from the artist by suggesting that the artist is suing him. I'm not sure why this is funny entirely, but it is. I suspect it is because Paul Simon by nature seems somewhat calm and introspective. It strikes our sensibilities as somewhat absurd to imagine Paul Simon responding to good natured parody with indignation and a troop of lawyers. It is funny because it suggests that our notion of Paul Simon as a calm, introspective fellow is just an act and beneath this facade resides an ambitious rage-filled egomaniac. It is absurd and therefore funny, but also, because of its absurdity it reinforces those admirable traits of Mr. Simon.

But GK takes the joke even a step further and works a bit of self-deprecating humor into it. By heaping over-the-top praise on Paul Simon he is pretending to placate Mr. Simon. Then he pokes fun at a Prairie Home Campanion as just a little old radio show from MN. This is funny because it extends the joke whereby GK is attempting to placate the artist by kowtowing and supplication. He is grovelling. We are left with the image of a grovelling and anxiety wracked GK which is funny because we know that the joke is just a put on. GK pretends to be overwrought with anxiety and we, the audience, understand that it is an absurd overreaction to an imagined affront.

Subtle humor is held together by very thin gossamer threads that can be completely destroyed by overanalysis. But Mr. Keillor is a highly successful radio show host and accomplished writer who would never retaliate against a lowly, semi-anonymous poster who inadvertently destroyed his joke through overanalysis. We should be thankful that there are people who display this level of judgment and compassion in our world. I, for one, salute him for it.


Paul Simon is a genius.
Garrison Keillor is also a genius.

Why does Mr. Keillor think it's okay to steal from Mr. Simon by infringing his copyrights?

Does Mr. Simon steal from Mr. Keillor?

Previous Post:
« #1 IN BACHELOR FARMERS

Next Post:
Grommets »

Post to the Host Archive

Complete Post to the Host Archive


American Public Media © |   Terms and Conditions   |   Privacy Policy