The last time I saw Jimmy Cliff he had hair. It was in a bar in Berkeley or maybe it was Oakland and it wasn’t’ a bar really, more of a garage turned into a place for Reggae.
And to tell you the truth it could have been Peter Tosh and not Jimmy Cliff. There’s a lot I don’t remember about Berkeley and I’m not proud of some of the water that flowed under the bridge.
But tonight it all kind of worked out. A bald Jimmy Cliff sang The Harder They Come – TWICE. It was really all that I came for and to tell the truth I didn’t want to come at all.
But we gave away a zillion tickets on the radio and I said I’d show up a zillion times on the air so when I was lying in bed for a nap in late afternoon the wife said you better get up and be a man of your word.
And boy am I glad she turned on the light and raised the curtains. A clear and unreasonably cool July night on the shores of Wolf Lake. At sunset, you could look through the back of the stage and see the Sears Tower. During “I Can See Clearly Now” I had to take a piss but instead I stayed and danced with my wife and kid and somehow it all comes down to that water under the bridge reminding me that I really don’t deserve such purity but what the hell – it’s Hammond on a Wednesday night. What kind of heaven could that aspire to be?
Afterwards Jordan who has announced games with me since he was 15 joined us and we headed to take a picture with a bald Jimmy Cliff. We wound up last in line because I’m 52 and had to stop at a port-a-potty covered in piss on the inside and toilet-paper caught in the door.
If you weren’t so old we wouldn’t be the last in line, my daughter and wife and Jordan cajoled in chorus. I didn’t mind. The guy ahead in line named Mike recognized my voice and asked if I was me and I said that I was. I listen to you every day, man, and told my wife that has to be you.
It is me, I told him, and thanked him for listening. And I mean it. And I mean it also when I say that it was a good night under one of those kinds of moons that a cow jumps over and my wife bumped me with her hip a few times and grabbed my hand and my daughter fetched us beer and Jordan even smiled. It was a good Jimmy Cliff night. It doesn't even bother me that I can't remember if it was Jimmy Cliff or Peter Tosh in a bar that was either Berkeley or Oakland in 1982.