My memories are hazy, but 42 years ago tonight, on March 31, 1978, I saw Jimmy Buffett play at the St. Paul Civic Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Because my memories of that night are hazy, I emailed my friend Doug this morning: “What are your memories, if any, of seeing Jimmy Buffett at the St. Paul Civic Center 42 years ago tonight, March 31, 1978?”
Doug and I had been friends and co-workers for little more than two months back then, but he asked me to go along. Sure, it sounded like an adventure. However, Doug’s memories also are hazy. “Did Linda Ronstadt open?”
No, man, it was Emmylou Harris, and I had look to that up some years ago. I remember nothing from her performance.
Our memories are hazy because both Doug and I are older than dirt, and because way too many substances legal and illegal were enjoyed that evening.
Man, how long ago was that night? I was still almost a year away from dating the young lady I eventually married. So long ago that she and I have since seen two Jimmy Buffett shows together but both were almost 30 years ago.
What I can tell you about that night, having found a review of that show:
— The Concert Bowl was set up in the Civic Center — a hockey rink — by hanging a huge black drape across one of the blue lines, cutting the place in half. There were about 6,000 of us in the place.
— The sound was terrible, especially for two acts with solo acoustic sets.
— It was the first stop on Emmylou’s American tour. She’d just wrapped up a six-week European tour and had a new version of her backing band, the Hot Band. She covered Chuck Berry’s “C’est La Vie” and the Beatles’ “Here, There and Everywhere.”
— Buffett played for almost two hours. Here’s the set list from two nights before at the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee. Guessing the St. Paul show was much the same. I imagine 21-year-old me got pretty fired up when Buffett played “Margaritaville” and “Why Don’t We Get Drunk” and “Cheeseburger In Paradise.” But I really don’t remember.
42 years on, give me the more thoughtful songs that 21-year-old me almost certainly didn’t appreciate.
Like this one, co-written by Buffett’s friend, the late, great Steve Goodman.
“Banana Republics,” Jimmy Buffett, from “Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes,” 1977.
It’s said to be from another show on the Cheeseburger In Paradise tour, from June 1978, a little more than two months later, at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles.
Somehow, it seems timely to still be singing about banana republics all these years later. Doesn’t seem that it’ll be too long before we have a bunch of soon-to-be expatriated Americans fleeing to the tropics, one step ahead of the law.
Late at night you will find them
In the cheap hotels and bars
Hustling the senoritas
While they dance beneath the stars
One more fun fact: The night before, Journey played the same venue with Van Halen and Ronnie Montrose as opening acts. Tickets were $6.
Van Halen was just a month into its first national tour.