A song for Dandy Don Meredith

Updated
Don Meredith has died. A lot of people will remember Don Meredith as an excellent football quarterback, first in college at S.M.U. and then as a pro with the Dallas Cowboys. Many more people will remember Don Meredith as the freewheeling commentator on Monday Night Football in the 1970s and part of the 1980s. For folks who cared about football in those days, Dandy Don Meredith was something completely different and original. He spoke on TV without guile or calculation. He was on a broadcast, but he wasn’t a broadcaster. He had expert knowledge, but his knowledge wasn’t the reason he was compelling to watch. He liked a good time and thought that was worth expressing publicly, and the public appeared to enjoy knowing this about Don Meredith. Dandy Don was having a party all the time, and, on Monday nights, you could come to the party for a few hours. And there was a football game you could watch too! If he wasn’t the first of his kind, he was among the first. He was and will continue to be imitated ever after and taken for granted by succeeding generations. One thing that Don Meredith did on Monday Night Football was to sing a favorite song of his when the outcome of the game appeared to have been determined. One team or another would have put its opponent away with some time remaining to play. And Dandy Don would croon, right there on TV, with no musical accompaniment, not particularly beautifully, Willie Nelson’s “Turn Out The Lights, The Party’s Over…” Everybody who watched Monday Night Football knew it was coming. It was the national indication that the audience could go to bed because the next day was a school day. It’s a sad day that Don Meredith has died. He was totally excellent. My brother and I saw him randomly in Santa Fe in about 1988, having a cigarette and hanging out. We didn’t even talk to him, but we were totally psyched to have seen the legend sort of up-close. And as famous as he made Willie Nelson’s “Turn Out The Lights,” Don Meredith’s passing reminds me of a different Willie Nelson song. R.I.P. Dandy Don.

A song for Dandy Don Meredith

Updated