Monday, September 13, 2004

Jimmy Buffet Fenway Park Partyville 2004

I’ve always thought it must be nice to be Jimmy Buffet, that Caribbean soul that is barely controlled with some Texas hidden there in his heart. The music which reflects his lifestyle, especially the output from the Seventies, is country rock at its finest, with some of the best lyrics of that ilk. The last five songs on A1A, as I have previously written here, may be one of my favorite “sides” ever. But for one reason of another, I have never attended any of his legendary concerts. Until yesterday that is.

When it was announced that Jimmy Buffet would be playing a rare Fenway Park concert, I was determined to attend. Last year Bruce Springsteen had played that venue (home of the fabled Boston Red Sox) and all the talk afterwards had been positive about both concert and setting. So with tickets in hand Beverly and I arrived at 3 o’clock for the 6 o’clock show last night. First, we walked the streets that ring the park. All of the clubs along Lansdowne St. were Jimmy Buffet parties that day, something especially appreciated by all those Parrotheads, since the city would not tolerate any tailgating parties.

At 4 o’clock, the doors to the park were opened. We got Coors Lights for seven dollars each and proceeded to Yawkey Way. That road is closed during events and becomes part of the Park. We sat down on the steps to the 406 Club and watched the hula skirts, the parrot hats, the leis, the colorful Hawaiian shirts, and all kinds of other headwear and costumes stroll by. All people were bright-eyed and smiling.

By five o’clock though I noticed a sea change in the crowd. People entering the gates at the end of the street were certainly more colorful in their regalia. But the eyes were also more blurred. And the walking was definitely less steady. These were the hardcore Parrotheads making their landing. Most of these folk either had been in those bars on Lansdowne Street or attending some private parties. They were flying what I was to learn the true colors of a Jimmy Buffet concert.

Anyways, we got to our seats a little before six o’clock. They were excellently located, right at the left field wall that rises towards the Green Monster. A little after six, following the loud Hot Hot Hot introduction, Jimmy came out on the stage in shorts and bare feet and played a solo acoustic version of Changes in Latitudes. Beach balls were flying, beer continued flowing, and the Coral Reefer Band came on stage and the Buffet anthems began a-playing.

And that is the crux of my issue with this so-called concert. I knew of the Parrothead phenomenon, and understood these Jimmy Buffet affairs had a party atmosphere. But I did not realize that the party was the primary event. Buffet is there to play his anthems, the house band playing to the merrymaking in the stands. Not that I didn’t imbibe myself. But after 5 beers for the evening, I was still one of the most sober people in the Park. Not that there weren’t some songs played that I truly enjoyed. When the band let loose they cooked. Surprisingly enough, the cover songs were some of the highlights, especially Brown-eyed Girl and Scarlet Begonias. And A Pirate Looks at Forty was a fine piece of singing by Jimmy, a moment where I think he was looking inside his soul.

Jimmy today is sailing between Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. I helped pay for his trip, and I’m happy he knows how to make the most of his ticket and merchandise sales. But I think he has paid a price to do so. Maybe he has sacrificed the artist inside for the showman and party manager, and I’m not sure how much sailing can heal that psychic wound. Unfortunately I’ll never have the chance to know. Sales for my poetry have been fairly low lately. (In fact I think I haven’t made a dime since 2000 when a text book company in California paid me $100 to use one of my Acadia poems in a text book exercise.) But I’m also not sure any more how nice it would be to be Jimmy Buffet. At least when he’s playing “Jimmy Buffet” on stage.

Salt! Salt! Salt!

2 comments:

tif said...

cheesburgers, paradise, and......SEVEN DOLLAR BEERS!?!??!?!?

Greg said...

Obsolutely outrageous isn't it. I don't even want to begin to think how many cases that would translate to in honest retail. Never mind New Hampshire!