Last night at Madison Square Garden, my brother and law and I felt like we were the only ones who did not drink the Kool-Aid. To tell the truth, it was Kool-Aid I could do without. During Brown Eyed Girl (which at one time was a cool cover of a Van Morrison tune, but has devolved into a dance party for guys dressed like lettuce) I looked up at the crowd, and there were 20,000 posers singing and dancing, and having the time of their lives. It was surreal.
Buffett churned out hit after hit, throwing in the occasional new material, but unfortunately, the new material isn't nearly as good as the material from what I call phase 2 of Buffett's career (1986-1996, aka Before the Billions). This period was grossly under represented in the set list (actually, I do not recall any songs from Last Mango through Fruitcakes). Look, obviously Buffett knows what he is doing, as his net worth continues to grow exponentially, and the guy dressed like a tomato was in a state of bliss. Still, I think Buffet has lost something, but that something is very intangible, and certainly beyond the vision of the guy dressed like a bottle of ketchup. Besides, we got to see some young sluts flashing their tits on the big screens! I guess glittering prizes and endless compromises do in fact shatter the illusion of integrity.
I first saw Jimmy Buffett in June of 1988. I do not recall any people dressed up as French fries, or any frat boys wearing grass skirts, or any middle aged house fraus wearing cheeseburger hats. It was just a good crowd of people, enjoying the music of a great story teller. In 1988, Buffett was touring for Hot Water (that is one of his better albums, despite the fact that they guy dressed as a pickle never heard Smart Woman in a Real Short Skirt) that summer, and his set list was a combination of his usual hits and some new material, with some lesser known songs mixed in.
As Archie and Edith would have said, "those were the days."
Today's Buffet crowd is a sub culture of yuppies, frat boys, sorority sluts, with a few old timers mixed in. Jimmy Buffett is the Gene Simmons of mainstream culture. This guy will sell anything. He even sells shrimp! Who is he Forrest Gump? I am just waiting for parrot head condoms, with wrappers that look like shark fins (the guy dressed as a cold draft beer would be the first in line for those).
Last night, our tickets were way up in the "blues", but we never got there. We decided to sneak down into the lower sections and wound up a few rows behind the mixing board. There were several empty seats in the area (I guess a bunch of Investment Bankers were called out of town - so there was one less guys dressed like a cheeseburger bun). I suppose that is the one good thing about pop culture's discovery of Jimmy, the corporate seats are empty sometimes.
I am sure I was the only one at MSG last night who looked at the stage, and thought, next time I am here I will be staring at pyramids and listening to the great Winston Churchill. We shall go on to the end….