Editor’s Note: Friday on the NewsHour, Jeffrey Brown visits the set of “A Prairie Home Companion” as it starts a new era with a new host.
Garrison Keillor began the iconic public radio variety program 42 years ago, and it always opened with a monologue about the fabled town of Lake Woebegon, where “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”
Thile is a genius in his own right, but his gift is songwriting and playing the mandolin. When he twice guest-hosted the show earlier this year, he decided to replace the spoken monologue with an original song, usually incorporating news of the day. In February, he penned a tune about Peyton Manning and the upcoming Super Bowl.
Last weekend, when Thile officially took over hosting duties, he wrote about the colorful season of autumn and the presidential election.
“Tis the season of orange and yellow,” he crooned. “I don’t mean the hue of a particular fellow.”
During a break in rehearsals, Thile told correspondent Jeffrey Brown that his original version took a more partisan tone, but he decided to back off.
“Right now I don’t feel like people need a song from me that ends up being sort of the equivalent of a Jon Stewart monologue, however entertaining that kind of thing might be.”
Instead, he wanted to make just passing references to a campaign season that has “hijacked” his favorite season.
“So we have to deal with our thoughts and feelings about the election. We also have to remember to make a little bit of apple cider and look at some leaves, shuffle through them, smell the fireplaces.”