I Can’t Help Falling
“We need to sing,” said Garrison Keillor, and no one in the audience could argue with his logic.
It was less than one week after September 11, 2001, and Keillor was in Kansas City for a book signing and excerpt-reading event at the Uptown Theater. Many of the hundreds of people gathered to hear him had likely not ventured far from home in the past few days, but for Garrison Keillor, exceptions were made.
There was a sadness hovering over the crowd, though. A reticence. We wanted to laugh at his Wobegon tales, forget the present and reminisce over an innocent past, but we couldn’t remember how. There was even, I felt, a mild distrust of each other in that theater, as if we feared the stranger right next to us—yes, the mild-mannered Lutheran woman in the jean jumper—might be a likely threat.
“We need to sing,” he said, and led us to stand to our feet and hold our neighbors’ hands.
“Oh beautiful, for spacious skies,” he began, in a singing voice as rich and mellow and believable as the one he used to speak. One by one, members of the audience joined in, until the room was filled with a unity of heart and sound. There were no power-point slides to cue the more obscure verses, and as we moved past the second verse, soon only Keillor was left singing once again. He knew every word, and sang every verse strong and unencumbered.
It was the second song that surprised us, since it was neither patriotic nor religious.
It was romantic.
“Wise men say, only fools rush in.
But I can’t help falling in love with you.”
Utter fools have rushed in, killing people we can’t help being in love with…
“Shall I stay? Would it be a sin?
If I can’t help falling in love with you.”
But we’re still here. Not going anywhere. Can’t help it that we’re in this thing together…
“Take my hand. Take my whole life, too.
For I can’t help falling in love with you.”
We—each of us, all of us—looked into strangers’ faces in that theater, scanned eyes for signs of love, and found them. And we couldn’t help ourselves.
Never mind what we were facing, we just couldn’t help falling in love.
Posted by Katy
on 08/31/11 at 04:00 AM
- I have been reading this blog for awhile now and I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your writing. I will continue to look forward to what you have to say. :)<br><br>Melinda =/../=
Posted by Melinda on 02/13/03 at 08:02 PM
- Melinda--Is that your pic on your site? Because, and I know this is weird, we look alike!! A lot alike! Like, you look more like my daughter than my daughter does! Thanks for reading.
Posted by katy on 02/13/03 at 08:38 PM
- What a great entry! Garrison will be in Nashville this Saturday and I am going. I was at a taping of A Prarie Home Companion years and years ago in Atlanta, and the experience of actually being in the same room when Garrison began speaking, in that distinctive, melodious way, was one I will never forget.
Posted by Larry on 02/13/03 at 11:07 PM
- I went to hear Garrison Keillor in Ohio a few years ago - I still remember the funniest part of the evening. He was telling a story about a huge megachurch he visited where communion was served in individualized plastic containers. Tear off the plastic cover of one side for the Body, and the other side for the Blood. Anyway, the thing that has stuck with me was his description of the church being so big it was like "Six Flags Over Jesus"!!
Posted by Ellen on 02/14/03 at 02:30 AM
- Larry, I've also been to a taping, besides the reading. Does entertainment get better? Thanks for visiting here!
Posted by katy on 02/14/03 at 08:40 AM
- Ellen, Who else could come up with Six Flags Over Jesus? Hey, Happy Birthday, lady!
Posted by katy on 02/14/03 at 08:41 AM
- i love spontaniously goosebumpy evenings like that.
Posted by lisa on 02/14/03 at 08:58 AM
- Lisa, Yes. And, as Dave Barry would say, wouldn't Spontaneously Goosebumpy Evenings be a good name for a rock group? Or just Spontaneous Goosebumps, but I think adding Evenings is a classy touch...
Posted by katy on 02/14/03 at 02:16 PM
- no garrison keillor-related comments here; just wanted to let you know you have a new reader. i found you through sara. i'm absolutely enchanted by your writing style. can't wait to read more... :)
Posted by lisa e. on 02/16/03 at 04:20 PM
- Lisa e--Welcome to another Lisa! Thanks for your kind comment.
Posted by katy on 02/17/03 at 10:05 AM
- I doubt anybody will read this nearly a year and a half after the fact... but in response to exclamation about who else could have come up with the "Six Flags Over Jesus" simile: Don Henley came up with it in 1989 in his song "Little Tin God."
I think we're all just repeating things we've heard somewhere else.
Posted by Brandon on 05/26/04 at 06:52 AM
Posted by Megan DiMaria on 08/31/11 at 10:39 AM
- Katy, thank you for sharing this. I was just getting ready to write a post on my 9/11 memories.
I was in a hotel that turned into a church, almost like you describe at the Garrison Keiler event.
Your writing is powerful.
Posted by Lucille Zimmerman on 08/31/11 at 05:40 PM
- Megan and Lucille, my friends, bless you for your sweet words! Amazing how many spots became sacred after 9/11, isn't it? Hotels into churches...these are the things we remember, aren't they?
Posted by Katy on 08/31/11 at 07:36 PM
- “Take my hand. Take my whole life, too.
For I can’t help falling in love with you.”
I like the song very much.
Thank you for your posts.
Posted by ericyaya on 09/23/11 at 09:45 PM
- So lovely!
Posted by Agness on 10/06/11 at 04:25 AM
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