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Closers, in baseball, are considered the last line of defense. Names like Trevor Hoffman of San Diego, Dennis Eckersley of Oakland, and Mariano Rivera of New York come to mind. In my line of work, closers are those people that go in at the end of a long, complicated project and put the finishing touches on mechanical systems: everything from making sure the ambient air sensors are communicating with the boilers to repairing a leaking urinal (both of which I did yesterday).

For a couple of years, I have been assigned as a closer when one is needed. I am told it's because of my attention to detail and overall efficiency. I believe it's because I don’t complain as loudly as others about having to fix other's mistakes and my skill at solving the small but confounding mysteries of machines and systems; they speak to me like music, in ways that are clearer to me than so much of what passes for language these days.

Some closers—those last items or events—are memorable just for being, well, final. Today I am thinking about last songs, those that ended concerts, ended careers, ended eras.

The Rolling Stones ended the Altamont Speedway Free Concert (San Francisco, 1969) with “Street Fighting Man”; the last public performance of the Beatles ended with “Dig a Pony” (3 Saville Row, Apple rooftop, 1969); “Box of Rain” was the last song of the last concert performed by the Grateful Dead (Soldier Field, 1995).

The last song performed by The Doors was not ever completed—it was “Light My Fire” (The Warehouse, New Orleans, 1970), where Morrison wouldn’t sing the final verse and ended up smashing his microphone and walking off the stage. In Clear Lake, Iowa (1959) at the Surf Ballroom, Buddy Holly performed his last song, and although there is some disagreement, most people remember it as “Rave On.”

The last song played on the Titanic was “Nearer My God To Thee.”




Grab a cup of coffee and pull up a chair. What's on your mind this morning?


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