Remember the Seinfeld episode, where Jerry explains to George about leaving on a high note, and George invokes the “Thank you, good night,” exit repeatedly at the most inopportune moments during the show?

How do you know when you’ve hit a high note?

Phil posed the question to me yesterday, “If you could have two tickets to any concert—any artist—any genre—what would it be?”

I couldn’t answer immediately.  I needed to think about it.  I mean, if it could be ANY artist—alive or dead—that warranted a little more thought.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have been to Nashville, during the CMA Music Festival for the past eight years, so I’ve been able to see most every current act that I might be interested in enjoying.  Phil’s question was one that really left me pondering.

I had never seen Johnny Cash in concert, and he sprung to mind after some extensive thought.  But I would want to see him earlier in his career, as opposed to his later years.  I’m not trying to be mean here when I say this—but I had the opportunity to see Glen Campbell one year in Nashville, and it was just before his Alzheimer’s got really bad.  He still sounded pretty good, but he was really struggling to remember the lyrics to his own songs, and even be the showman that he had been for so many years, commanding the stage.  If it hadn’t been for his children on stage with him, I’m not sure he would’ve been able to get through the entire performance.  It was difficult to watch, but I’m sure it was 1000 times harder for him to contend with in the spotlight.

This wasn’t how you want to see the country greats on stage.  It made me wish that I had been able to see him when he was “hitting the high notes” in his career—before the dreaded disease took so much from him.

Going out on top is no easy feat.  It’s hard to recognize when the time is right to exit.  Like Brett Favre, or Michael Jordan—sometimes it’s tough to let go of something that has defined you.  For others, it may just be a financial thing.  Not everybody in the entertainment or sporting industries has an excellent financial advisor to help ensure that the dough that is rolling in today—is being invested or saved for tomorrow.  

There have been a lot of musicians and athletes who have made millions in their careers, only to be left with very little when they were older, due to poor decision-making or management.  So, unfortunately some celebrities—like athletes and musicians—find themselves having to continue to “work” past their prime.  Sometimes it’s not so bad—but other times, it can be downright sad to see.  

With that all in mind—who would you choose to see in concert—if someone were to hand you a pair of tickets to any show… and a time machine if necessary?