My opening farewell

In August 2002 I went to see Bonnie Raitt perform at the Minnesota State Fair. I’d previously seen Raitt perform in St. Paul at the Ordway Center in the late ’80s, I think, but she was obviously drunk on that occasion. ZZ Top was performing at the St. Paul Civic Center that night, and Raitt kept saying: “Man, ZZ Top. They’re playing next door; I can’t believe you’re here,” or something to that effect, and laughing each time. I hadn’t seen Raitt perform since she recovered her sobriety.

Only two or three songs into her 2002 State Fair set, apparently stone cold sober, Raitt started plugging wind energy. I was struck by the fact that the massive amplifiers used for her outdoor show at the Fair would probably have required some significant fraction of the windmills of Holland to support them. She seemed a little lacking in self-awareness. Another song or two into the set, after an incredibly hot performance of “I Can’t Help You Now,” Raitt plugged the senatorial reelection campaign of Paul Wellstone.

Wellstone tragically died in an airplane crash within days of the election. At the time, however, I was pulling mightily for Norm Coleman to defeat Wellstone in the upcoming election and disappointed that I had shelled out hard-earned dollars for the privilege of being lectured by a political moron. We walked out of the show a half hour into Raitt’s set and resolved never to return.

This past Saturday night Raitt put us to the test, returning to the Minnesota State Fair for the first time since 2002 (I think). This was one resolution I kept; we gave her show a pass. Jon Bream’s account of the show in the Star Tribune yesterday therefore had a special resonance for me: “She plugged wind power energy [again!], congressional candidate Keith Ellison…” Keith Ellison! Bonnie, you’ve been “Too Long At the Fair.” “If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody,” don’t make a fool of your yourself, let alone your fans. “Give It Up”!


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