Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

One summer evening on a jetty in Lobsterville

Today is 33 years since the singer songwriter Carly Simon performed and recorded her iconic concert “on a jetty in Lobsterville” here on our island. While I wish I’d been there in person, if I had, I likely wouldn’t remember it. Instead I know the date because of frequently watching the concert video, which highlights the date (as seen in the screengrab at left) at the start of the recording, between the ages of around 5 and 10. As I moved on to other musical and cultural interests, the concert came to signify a certain unique Martha’s Vineyard feeling and energy that I might want to re-visit when I wasn’t on the island, so I would occasionally watch it when I felt nostalgic. The recording’s arrival on DVD in 2004 also marked a brief but notable resurgence of my appreciation of the concert. Later on in a continued awareness of the “nostalgic” point, I made sure to have the disc on hand and available if I wanted to watch it during my 10 years of living out of Massachusetts. The most energetic song for me was always The Stuff that Dreams Are Made Of, which was noticeably absent from the commercial audio recordings of the concert and so contributed to the wish to watch the video recording again … or for the umpteenth time.

This year, since I’m currently living relatively close to the concert site, I chose to go over this morning and do a brief in-person nod to the musical history. It would have been nice if Carly acknowledged the concert with some sort of anniversary event in years past – whether 2017, 2012, or an earlier time – but she seems less willing to perform in public at present. As for the location itself, the stage was only a temporary one, so it was (presumably) removed soon after the event. Where the performance area was built right on a sand dune, I wonder if the town would have allowed the event to take place a few years later, as ecological awareness grew.

The dune itself sits there unchanged (pictured at right today), in a quiet reflection of its prominent musical and island historical role. The simplicity of the location is calming in some way, serving as a physical note, for those “in the know”, that something can rise to the occasion and fall back into a lower key, perhaps like the peaks and valleys of life itself.

For the DVD release, Carly recorded a retrospective interview about the concert, which included some bonus footage from the second night (June 10, 1987) of recording. The full disc included the interview in three parts, running around 20 minutes, and it was later edited down to a shorter selection of highlights to include online. That version is linked below.


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