A Very Special Post — Jimmy in Concert

Actual photo.

So after long ago buying tickets to JB’s “Under the Big Top” tour — assuredly putting me on some sort of watch list — I decided… not to go.

Various reasons, among them:

  • (a) I didn’t want to hear — in the far from pristine environment that is Jimmy’s actual voice — the post-1987 music I’ve yet to encounter,
  • (b) I frankly didn’t want to hear the handful of songs I actually like equally butchered by the man who gave them life, and:
  • (c) despite 16 albums of preparation I wasn’t ready to surround myself with the Buffett aesthetes who’ve practiced for this their entire lives.

I ended up there anyway.

After selling my tickets early in the week, I found myself last night, inexplicably, in a car with the Mrs. Brothers and some incredibly indulgent friends — who wish to remain anonymous (as, in retrospect, do I) — mere meters from where JB himself stood. It’s hard to explain, but once Jimmy set foot on Bay Area soil the gravity was inescapable: there was no way he and I weren’t going to share some bad music together — along with 40,000 of his drunkest friends. (Suffice to say that now I know what Vader felt whenever Luke approached the Death Star.)

So there we were. 9pm. (Jimmy went on at eight — it took me a while to motivate.) Idling at the curb, outside the concert. Semi-sober.

Problem One: Tickets.

Here’s a trick for all you future concert-goers. Apparently if you’re willing to:

  • (a) show up more than an hour late,
  • (b) sweet talk the honeys in the VIP entrance (this was key — and wasn’t me — thanks SJ), and
  • (c) “donate” to the specious charity fronted by the guy with the keys to the arena

…you might find yourself with some tickets.

Problem Two: Parking.

We had tickets! We could hear Jimmy. (Win some, lose some.) And to the strains of “It’s My Job” — seriously — we encountered a parking attendant decidedly doing his: no way he was letting us into the lot.

Luckily for us, the next attendant was not so inspired by the lyrics. Seconds later we backed into a spot a short walk from the entrance. Next stop: beer concession.

Problem Three

None. (Unless you count “having to listen to Jimmy sing” a problem.) We were in. And there HE was, destroying “Cheeseburger in Paradise” as we found our seats. The sea of parrotheads was alive… blowing a collective .14 but alive… pulsating with every hit of the steel drum… and singing too off-key of its own accord to notice that the emperor had no tone.

I will say this for Jimmy Buffet fans. They are tremendously accepting — which makes sense given what they tolerate as music. In our short time there the crowd around us was willing to participate in numerous impromptu high-fives; to ignore my generally stilted concert demeanor and cries of distain whenever Jimmy talked or ad-libbed his way through a chorus; or to literally give one of my partners-in-crime the stuffed parrots off their heads, and the leis off their necks.

Come Sunday…

We didn’t last long. “Cheeseburger…,” “A Pirate Looks at Forty” (which I made sure to loudly proclaim was not about a real pirate), “Woman Going Crazy on Caroline Street,” “Margaritaville.” Check. A couple of other songs younger than the 16 albums I’ve devoured, and that I quickly wiped from memory. The crowd loves them some “Margaritaville,” which is fine (I don’t mind that song). But “Pirate…” sucks.

And then, as quickly as the evening had evolved, it was over. We were in the car, beating the traffic home. And rightly so. Jimmy’s worth a conscripted “donation” perhaps, but not worth an hour of bumper cars with parrothead motorhomes, boat trailers and other vehicular novelties.

But, come this morning, I was surprisingly wistful. “Fins” — which assuredly was to come in the encore (it did) — would have been fun. I was ready with hand gestures. “Wonder Why We Ever Go Home” was not on the set list (and I imagine never is), but I would have enjoyed. Likewise “Last Mango…,” “Lady I Can’t Explain,” and “Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season” — all were not performed, and probably not missed by the Landshark-Lager-goggled crowd, but that I’m left wanting anything measurable at all from a Jimmy Buffett concert says a frightening amount about how this project has changed me.

Like that when Jimmy sets his 2011 tour dates, I might find myself again on the ticket pre-order list.

How is that possible?

I don’t wonder why we ever go home, Jimmy, but I do wonder what the hell you’ve done to me.

Thanks completely to the TBB support-crew/entire-readership that made the night happen. Next year we wear our own parrots!

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2 Responses to A Very Special Post — Jimmy in Concert

  1. Brad Denton says:

    So help me, as a nerdy Tennessean in the 80’s desperately hoping to be different, I became addicted to JB. I haven’t worn socks since 1986. I own every album, and I don’t know honestly if I just always liked novelty songs, or if JB twisted my mind. I just want to thank you for making me laugh continuously for the past hour . . . I truly honestly amazingly appreciate all that you have done here, and I salute you for it. Bravo!

  2. John Davi says:

    Thank you Da– I mean, “Brad.”

    I would say “My pleasure,” except these are quite tortuous. But reading your comment almost makes me want to get back on the horse and finish up this project. Almost.

    Next time send cash!

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