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Nothing Lasts Forever

Last Saturday evening, it was a privilege to be the guest of NPR Nashville and the Robinson family for the final showing of “A Prairie Home Companion” at The Ryman. (In case you aren’t familiar, it’s the only live music and variety show aired nationwide today, and has been on the air for more than four decades.)

This was my eighth year to attend this Garrison Keillor show, but this performance was different. Titled “Upward and Onward,” it was Keillor’s final performance at The Mother Church of Country Music. After 40 years in the business, he is retiring. Chris Thile will take over in the fall.

The show, which featured Brad Paisley, was incredible. As we went on stage afterwards, shaking hands with Garrison Keillor and the other performers, I was reminded that nothing lasts forever…No matter how hard we try and wish it to be different. Toward the conclusion of the show Saturday, Garrison did a tribute to all of the great Nashville stars who he has had the pleasure of working with over the years, starting with Chet Atkins a few decades ago. As many times as I’ve been to the show, I’ve never seen him do an encore. Saturday evening he performed 5 encore songs after the show went off the air. While the Ryman will miss him, my feelings are he will miss the Ryman even more.

The show will go on, for sure, but I will miss Garrison Keillor’s voice delivering the latest news from Lake Wobegon, “where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.