Memories of the Phonograph
By Garrison Keillor - Excerpt
from "That tide in the affairs of men" January 6, 2017 and
Honorary Friend of the Phonograph
Back when I was 16 and an idealist, I decided
that our church youth group -- I was president -- should sit and listen
to Handel's oratorio "Messiah" and have a spiritual experience so
I brought my LP and sat everyone down in a circle and talked about
how wonderful it was and set the needle down on the vinyl.
They listened to the opening Sinfonia and "Comfort
ye my people" and "Every valley shall be exalted" but the bass recitative
did not hold their interest, and whispers of conversation broke out
and by "O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion" a full-blown social
hour had erupted, laughter even, and I glared at the violators but
they were undeterred.
I sat and seethed as the beautiful spiritual experience
leaked away. The contralto sang "He shall feed his flock like a shepherd"
and it was pearls before swine. People were jabbering about school
and cars and hairstyles and what they expected to get for Christmas,
all of them like sheep gone astray, and I hated them all and wanted
to beat them bloody with a baseball bat.
Now I'm just a tired old liberal and I know very
well that you cannot expect people to speak their lines like characters
in a play you've imagined in your mind.