The Democratic National Convention was a musical tragedy composed in three acts.
Tuesday night was the gathering of special interests and professional victims from every corner of the known universe, the most toxic group of economic and spiritual vampires since the mass gatherings in the early 18th century. If any suffering portion of the American subculture missed their turn at the bar, I missed it. It seemed that every ethnic, cultural, sexual group in the country with more than three members put in at least a cameo appearance, as did the community organizers, union bosses, government employees and all the others who make their living off the taxpayer. Each group had their chance, ordering drinks for the house, all on the tab.
Wednesday night's highlight was watching and listening to Mr. Bojangles himself, remixing songs from his top hits albums, humming the tunes when he couldn't remember his words. Older, greyer, thinner but still wildly attractive to many of the women and some of the men in the audience, still driving thrills.
By its final night, nostalgia had worn thin, replaced by a sense of sadness and loss. By next morning I was humming the tune from Piano Man. Though the words had changed just a bit, the feelings evoked were the same. Too much smoke, too much loneliness. The evening before an hour's respite from reality, weighed down with the absolute certainty that reality would return in full force, and the illusion would be gone.
It's ten o'clock on a ThursdayThe audience chipped in, they felt the heat of their friends
The regular crowd shuffles in
There's a former President sitting next to me
Makin' love to the brunette like a sin
Sing us a song you're the piano manThey knew what they wanted to hear, and they heard it, though it never was sung
Sing us a song tonight
Well we're all in the mood for a melody
And you got us feeling alright
They said, "Son, can you play us a memoryAnd the piano man sang them a song
I'm not really sure how it goes
But it's sad and it's sweet and we knew it complete
When you wore a younger man's clothes."
Now Joey B. at the bar is a friend of mineHe looked around with a jaundiced eye, always looking for his main deal
He gets me my drinks for free
And he's quick with a joke or to light up your smoke
But there's someplace that he'd rather be
He says, "Barry, I believe this is killing me."
As the smile ran away from his face
"Well I'm sure that I could be a President myself
If I could get out of this place"
It's a pretty good crowd for a Saturday
And the chairman gives me a smile
'Cause he knows that it's me they've been comin' to see
To forget about life for a while
And the piano, it sounds like a carnivalIt's a sad morning, I must say. A hangover I'm not anxious to face. But partying to excess has a price and it's almost time for the tab.
And the microphone smells like a beer
And the press sit at the bar and put bread in my jar
And say, "Man, what are you doin' here?"
This is the original Billy Joel video, my favorite. Apologies to him for the parody.