Parrotheads everywhere continue to mourn this week following the recent announcement that singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett has died. He passed away at 76 years old on September 1st. The “Come Monday” crooner leaves behind a legacy as having been one of the greatest American success stories ever, taking a single song in ‘Margaritaville’ and turning it into a billion-dollar industry…. But that’s not his true legacy. That lies within each of us who came to know, love, embrace, and find comfort in both his laid-back attitude and music.
I’ve tried to write this piece multiple times over the last several days. Each time, however, I had difficulty finding the right words. Sure, it would have been easy to pump out a memorial piece right away about all of his successes, from his music career to his bars and booze. I just… couldn’t. Jimmy Buffett passing away is far more personal for me. His music, as cliché as this will sound, simply soothed my soul. It still will; don’t get me wrong. But now it will also forever carry a hint of sadness.
Thank you, Jimmy Buffett
Perhaps the greatest aspect of both his life and his music is the notion of escapism. From ‘Margaritaville,’ to ‘The Weather is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful,’ to ‘Island Fever,’ Jimmy Buffett reminded us that we all need a break every once in a while. My day job is extremely demanding, and often doesn’t afford me the opportunity to… what’s that word? Relax. Yet if I put on some Buffett, and perhaps grab a Land Shark Lager, I’m able to slip away if ever so slightly. Key West, Jimmy’s adopted home and real-life embodiment of Margaritaville, is the happy place to which I will always return, again, again, and again.
I will forever be grateful for the impact Jimmy Buffett has had on my existence… and it’s been a significant one. I’d known his music since I was a kid, but didn’t truly become a Parrothead until my mid-twenties. At the time I was finishing law school and embarking on a now twenty-five year career. It sounds strange to say, but I’m now certain that fate played a part in his heart-calming music coming fully into my life at that time. It has stayed with me, and in many ways has become a part of me.
A Pirate Looks at 50
‘A Pirate Looks at 40′ is and will always be one of the biggest Jimmy Buffett songs ever, and one of my many, personal favorites. I just turned fifty, and the song probably resonates with me as I enter my fifties far more than it did a decade ago. Songs like “We are the People Our Parents Warned Us About,’ ‘Growing Older but Not Up,’ and ‘One Particular Harbor’ serve as permanent reminders for me to take a breath, step back, and remember that life doesn’t always have to be so serious. So stressful. So overwhelming. I do forget that sometimes. A lot, actually, which is why I’m so grateful to have my little escapes, even if they come one Jimmy Buffett song at a time.
My Patron Saint of easy living is gone, and I can’t help but to reflect upon just how prophetic he could be. Ironically, a single line he wrote in ‘He Went to Paris’ in 1973, the year I was born, would go on to perfectly describe his life fifty years later:
“Some of it’s magic, some of it’s tragic, but I had a good life all the way.”
Rest in peace, Jimmy Buffett, and thank you.
To read more about his life and legacy, visit https://www.jimmybuffett.com/.