“Income Tax is overdue. I think she is too.”
That is, in my terrible opinion, one of the greatest lyrical lines ever written.
You can’t help but snicker when you hear those words sung with a country twang. Even my Mom thought that it was funny. It can always make me smile when I’m feeling less than happy. It’s the first line from the last stanza of the song “Gettin’ By” written by Jerry Jeff Walker.
So, the phone rings one night at my apartment in Savannah. It was my ole’ buddy Mike calling from Hilton Head with some exciting news.
“Guess who’s playing at the OPO next Saturday night? Jerry Jeff Freakin’ Walker!!!”
“We bought 10 tickets this morning. So far, Dave, Dave, Keith, Paul and Burkhead are going. You in?”
Mike and I had a long list of common interests. We had worked together in Hilton Head at the same restaurant, food service becoming a lifelong profession for the both of us. He was a groomsman in my wedding. We loved the beach life, the nightlife, good times, and great food. But our first common thread discovered was a love for great music.
Most people don’t know the name, but Jerry Jeff hung out with the likes of Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, and had settled into the Texas music scene after hoboing around the States. He drove Jimmy Buffet to Key West for the very first time. A lot of people have heard the song “Mr. Bojangles”, but few know that Jerry Jeff wrote it.
Early on the night of the concert, ten good friends gathered together at Mike’s house for a pre-game warm-up feast that would’ve put Caligula’s get-togethers to shame.
The expensive appetizer and dessert menus had multiple choices that were drinkable, snort-able, or smoke-able. The main course consisted of meat in the forms of BBQ ribs and shredded pork, steamed shrimp, and oysters either steamed, fried, or raw. No vegetables. There was loud music and loud voices.
The OPO was a small venue that consistently offered-up some quality musical entertainment. On nights when the house band or a band of young road warriors were the entertainment, bodies were packed anywhere that there was enough room to sway and bob. But tonight’s show was reserved seating only, which meant that only 175 lucky people would have prime viewing of a music legend’s solo performance.
Ours was a large round table on a platform to the left of the stage, near the emergency exit door and just across the railing from the dressing room for performers. We had settled in for the night, further primed with mugs and glasses of idiot juice, the electricity in the room’s atmosphere arcing as the clock slowly neared show time.
Then, over the blare of music from wall speakers and the rumble of an excited crowd, came a loud series of knocks pounding on the emergency exit door.
Our table began to laugh as everyone shared their version of the possible reason behind the ruckus.
“Hey buddy! There’s a front door you know!”
“It’s probably somebody tryin’ to get in for free”
“Burkhead probably took a wrong turn leaving the pisser!”
I was seated closest to the steps that led down to the door.
“Hey Robin, go see who it is!”
I was saturated with self-confidence, and the club’s owners were friends of mine, leaving me with immunity from any backlash if a door alarm would go-off.
So, “What the heck”.
The table was laughing silly as they watched me s.l.o.w.l.y. open the door to reveal what was behind Door Number 1.
Standing there before me, wearing a white Stetson hat and a plain black t-shirt, was none other than Jerry Jeff Walker. He extended out his hand to shake mine and simply said “Thank you son” before slipping into the dressing room.
The next two hours were nothing short of spectacular for a music lover. Jerry Jeff half-sat on a tall stool in the middle of a small stage, playing an acoustic guitar as he performed song after wonderful song. Songs, that perhaps among that evening’s crowd, only Mike and I knew word for word.
(I didn’t ask permission, but here’s a Youtube link)
“The only way to know how much is enough, is to do too much, and then back up.”
~~~Jerry Jeff Walker