Listen Up: Wednesday, April 18, 2007
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A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Various artists Duets: A Prairie Home Companion

When I Get Home — Songs (HighBridge)

By Tom Geddie

Prairie Home Companion is such a good radio show that you’d expect songs from the show to be special too. But the choices on Duets: A Prairie Home Companion and When I Get Home — Songs are, as a whole, ordinary. Recorded directly from the live broadcasts, the songs here beg for the context of Keillor’s basically sentimental vision of America.

The main problem is that there’s too much musical variety on parade to allow for cohesive c.d.’s. For example, on Duets, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings’ folky “Orphan Girl” is followed by the chestnut “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” by Walter Bobbie and Faith Prince. Both songs are fine, but they don’t flow together.

The good: the Everly Brothers’ unhurried, subdued plea, “Blues Stay Away from Me,” and real-life partners Laurie Lewis and Tom Rozum’s bluegrass-y “The Oak and the Laurel.” Also, listen for Chet Atkins and Jethro Burns’ Spanish-influenced version of “Autumn Leaves.”

On Songs, Keillor’s love for the music makes up for his limited singing ability. He wrote a handful of the material and, with gentle humor and respect, added new lyrics to others. He thrives on several tracks, including: the traditional “My Grandfather’s Clock,” about a clock that quit running when grandfather died; “My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose,” a compilation of paraphrases of certain love poems, most notably Robert Burns’ title piece; “Everybody Knows it (When You’re from St. Paul)”; “Nearer My God to Thee,” a slow hymn that he turns into a celebration; and “Only For You,” about the travails of loving and caring.


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