I've been thinking about farewell tours.
George Strait recently announced the dates for the 2014 leg of his "Cowboy Rides Away Tour." I was a little surprised, because when the 2013 shows were going on, I don't recall anyone mentioning there would be a 2014 leg. In fact, the final 2013 show, at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, was widely touted as being Strait's last concert. The Alamodome, which holds more than 65,000 seats, sold out during presale.
Say it Ain't So, George.
"I'll quit when they pry my bass
from my cold, dead fingers!"
To be fair, Strait never said that the tour wouldn't have a 2014 leg. But back when I heard about it, I thought, "Gee, isn't he a little young for a farewell tour?" Strait is 61, which is a great age to retire if one is, for example, an accountant. I suppose some accountants love their job so much that they'd keep on doing it until they just weren't capable anymore, but I think it's fair to say that a lot of them would happily retire at 61, especially if they had made enough money to live more than comfortably for the rest of their lives.
Musicians are different, or at least I presume they are. I know a few people who are earning a living doing something they'd do even if they weren't being paid for it. They're all in some sort of creative field: artists, musicians, chefs, writers, etc. None of them have any intention of retiring, ever. They will work as long as they are able. I know a novelist who has arthritis so severe she can no longer type at all, which has not slowed down her productivity in the least. It's just resulted in her becoming exceptionally proficient at Dragon Dictation.
I expect musicians to keep performing until their voices fail (which Strait's shows no sign of doing) or some other physical malady prevents them from being able to crawl up to the microphone or pick up a guitar. When George Jones died in April of this year at age 81, he was in the middle of a tour. So, I'm sorry, but I don't actually believe that this particular cowboy is actually riding away for good.
Farewell Tours that Weren't
I've seen a few too many farewell tours that didn't turn out to be farewells. Heck, the Rolling Stones having been claiming that each tour was their last since the 1970's. I saw Fleetwood Mac in 1990 or 1991, during their "Behind the Mask" tour, which they had just announced as their last outing together. They are currently in the final shows of their 2013 world tour, and I've lost track of how many there have been in between.
Could You Give This Up?
Cher's 2014 "Dressed to Kill" tour is selling out stadiums all over the world. It should be a great show, based on how much I enjoyed her last farewell tour, which I caught in Miami. In November of 2002. Cher, by the way, is six years older than George Strait, and she's not even bothering to pretend that "Dressed to Kill" is her final tour.
If you google "farewell tour," you'll see names ranging from Motley Crue (average age 55) to Kiss (first farewell tour in 2002, followed by at tours in 2003, 2004, 2008, 2009-10, 2011, and 2012-13) to The Eagles (who actually named their 2005 tour"Farewell 1").
I understand that slapping the word "farewell" on a tour title probably does sell more tickets. And there may even be times when an artist sincerely intends to retire from the road.
But appreciative crowds are addictive, and giant paychecks tempting. And just plain loving what you're doing is, perhaps, the greatest incentive of all. So I understand why you keep coming back, you never-can-say-goodbye-ers out there. And I'm glad you do. Just don't tell me you aren't going to. I won't believe you, anyway.
Source: 2009 Jimmy Durante 'Did You Ever Have the Feeling ' via YouTube