The Prairie Home Antidote For American Political Anxiety


By the time this column is published, the last presidential debate will have either occurred or been cancelled, more women may or may not have come out to tell their stories of sexual abuse at the hands of a repulsive Republican nominee, Wikileaks will have posted information that indicates HRC is indeed a typical hack politician who says one thing to one group and something completely different to others, accusations will be made, lies will be told, and 92 percent of Americans will have already decided who they’ll vote for in less than three weeks.

If life was fair, we could just hit the the fast-forward button, race to the punch line, and be done with it all.

Whether you lean to the left or feel proud to be alt-right, everyone in our country is in the same boat: The U.S.S. Stressed Out.

While I think a solid argument could be made for dumping a strong dose of Xanax into the nation’s water supply, many humans find natural ways to soothe our souls and chill out when the going gets tough. Exercise, eating good food, hanging out with friends, dancing, taking nature walks, getting a massage, watching sporting events … you get the idea. And with 286,942,362 Americans currently connected to the internet, many are shopping, doing research, streaming films and music, engaging in meaningful dialogue on social media (yeah … I’m joking) and, of course, there’s always porn. Back in 2013 Google reported that there were more visits to porn sites than Amazon, Netflix, and Twitter combined. It’s huge!

But all this is just locker room banter — boy talk.

So lets get to the music.

Almost every Saturday night when I get off from work, I run to my car and turn on A Prairie Home Companion. Not one to actually sit still in front of the living room radio for two hours each week like they did back in the old days, my experience with Garrison Keillor and crew has always been more hit-and-miss. Fifteen minutes here, another five or ten there. Catch a comedy sketch, listen to a musical interlude. Over the years, I’ve read Keillor’s books, watched a lot of videos, loved the Robert Altman film enough to own it, and I have hours and hours of show snippets sitting in the digital jukebox that I liberally sprinkle into my playlists.

Last week, October 15 to be exact, was the official coming out party for Chris Thile as the new host of APHC. This is a great opportunity for Thile, but ever since Keillor announced his retirement, his departure has been mourned by many as the end of a grand American institution. I too have shared my own trepidation and despair on these pages as well. But surprise, surprise, surprise!

With the weight of the daily news cycle on my head and politics consuming my thoughts, it was with a low threshold of anticipation that I tuned into the show while driving home from work, and was confronted with the perfect antidote for my ballot box blues.

Making my way home, I hopped in and out of my car a few times — at the local Korean market for steamed fish and rice, a quick sprint through Trader Joe’s for uncured all-natural beef hot dogs, zucchini, and coffee, the local fluff and fold — and sweet music flowed in my ears every moment I was behind the wheel. Although it wouldn’t have been fair to expect that Thile would offer up the intellectual depth or comedic talents of Keillor, the applause coming through my car radio speakers sounded as if he won over the crowd at the Fitzgerald Theater with a stellar band and great guests. As you can hear for yourself, the show continued with the tradition of delivering the goods in American roots music.


This was originally published as an Easy Ed’s Broadside column at No Depression dot com. Because of space consideration I didn’t include a few other videos that I wanted to share,  featuring Jack White, Margo Price and Lake Street Dive. And so now, here they are.