Buffett's management team partnered with the News-Telegram to offer two tickets to the Dallas show and seemed to be impressed with the 7,600 entries. So maybe that's why he worked us into the lyrics. Or maybe he was thanking us for continuing to cover his shows. Whatever the reason, it was a nice thing to do.
The Big Kahuna of Margaritaville hasn't always lived life like a song. When he was starting out, he struggled to find his voice ... and an audience. Then, he came to Texas and a 40-year mutual admiration society began. Playing the coffee house circuit and then the bars from the Gulf Coast to Greenville Avenue, Buffett kept honing his craft, putting great stories to music and he hit the big time. But he has never forgotten who kept him fed during those lean years.
During the introduction to "Migration," a rarely-done-live song from his 1974 album "A1A," he said, "This song was written a long time ago and I never forgot that when I first started out, of course I loved living in Florida, but I couldn't get any work there, and the good people of Texas saw fit to hire me. The higher institutions of learning in Texas all had coffee houses and then I found bars, so Texas kept me alive for a while, and I wrote this song about the experience. I always like to play it when I get back here. Thank you, Texas, for helping me out."
For those of us who remember Jimmy before Margaritaville, it was a sweet moment. Even though he's updated the lyrics, the sentiment was still there.
The show opened with a 1:10 percussion solo by Eric Darken, who replaces long-time Coral Reefer Ralph McDonald, who died in December. It was a lovely tribute to the much-loved, long-time Reefer. Darken held his own all night and received a warm ovation from the Dallas audience. The band then joined Darken on stage and did a great rendition of "One Particular Harbor," which usually comes later in the set. Not sure how many in the audience got the message, but it certainly touched my heart.
Buffett also included a number to honor Levon Helm (The Band, composer of "Cripple Creek" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down"), who died Thursday. Not sure how they pulled it together so quickly, but Buffett and the CRBs didn't miss a lick on Helm's most famous song, "The Weight." Lead guitarist Peter Mayer took the microphone for one verse and was simply outstanding. Buffett should let him sing more often.
Then, Buffett pulled out an old chestnut that stunned the "I-only-know-the-words-to Margaritaville-and-Cheeseburger-in-Paradise" fans.
He did "Cowboy in the Jungle" from the 1978 album "Son of a Son of a Sailor." I've been following Jimmy a long time and I don't remember hearing that one live - at least not since he got a band and starting playing larger venues. And, yes, there were 21,999 other people there, but for those few minutes, it was just Jimmy, his guitar and that 1,000 watt smile.
Since this blog started with a special shout out, I'm going to end that way.
Kudos to the Gexa staff for being as laid back as Jimmy ... quite a pleasant change from Frisco, where the crew is a little more tightly wound.
Thanks to Mike Tabor, Gexa's parking lot guru. We appreciate all you did to make our second trip to Hoot Island (at the far corner of the parking lot) a spectacular success.
A big phins up to Officer D. Francikowski, Jr. who has to be one of Dallas' finest, in the truest sense of the word. He stopped by in his golf cart when we were setting up Wednesday ... and he was a frequent visitor to the island Thursday. He even gave me a lift when I had to treck from will call to the administrative offices to collect my photo pass. Other venues on Buffett's tour have had security issues. Not Dallas. Not with Officer Frankie and his colleagues around.
As long as Jimmy keeps touring, I believe he'll play Dallas. He loves us and we love him right back ... from Texas Stadium to SULPHUR SPRINGS.
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