In July of 2018, well-known ivory-tower resident, Billy Joel, jokingly told The Vulture about his idea for a retirement show:
“The stage is a living-room set: couch, TV, coffee table, food. And there’s bulletproof glass between me and the audience. Then I come out and lay down on the couch. I grab the remote and start watching TV. The crowd after a couple minutes goes, “Fuck this,” and starts throwing shit at the glass. I’ll have created a bond between me and the audience where I know they will never pay another nickel to see me again.”
What a bunch of narcissistic bullshit. He’s also wrong. As demonstrated by heavy-metal has-beens, Kiss, who are on their latest ‘No Really We Mean It This Time’ retirement tour, he has an exit, to which he can do a comeback tour, and people will pay top dollar via Ticketmaster to see him.
To this end, I would like to make the following proposal to Mr Joel: when the day comes when you are ready to retire, book Madison Square Garden. Book it for the entire day. Start the show at 1:00pm sharp. Take the stage, answer audience questions, share stories about your life, years on the road, jokes, bring up friends & family; the whole works.
Then, around 6:00 pm, play your songs. Play all the favorites: both yours and those of the audience. Play them with all your heart and soul. Play them with pure emotional intensity that every single person will have wave upon wave of tears of happiness.
As the final song is being played, a sheet with a bullseye target slowly and quietly descends. You stand up, walk over to the sheet, stand in front of it, take your final bow, say your final thanks, then take out a hidden sawed-off shotgun, put the barrels in your mouth and pull the trigger.
Afterwords, a professional auction team takes the stage, gathers up all the skull fragments, brain matter, and sops up all the blood into vials, auctioning off everything they can (the proceeds going to the Make-a-Wish Foundation) until all that’s left is a naked, mulated corpse, waiting to be immediately buried in Oyster Bay.
So, waddya say, Piano Man? It’s memorable, all the proceeds will go to a great cause, and you will retire in a way that will be so memorable, people will talk about it, for decades. It’s a win-win!
And the best part? There’s no way you’ll be able to do a hacky comeback tour. The end will truly be the end.