Jimmy Buffett—just writing his name makes me think of a different place and time—will be remembered as a pirate who brought his listeners treasure.
What a blow it was Saturday morning after learning that he died the night before. In an instant, I knew what it felt like the day the music died.
My life flashed before my eyes, the memories of living life with his songs. His Labor Day weekend shows at Great Woods in Mansfield, MA, now over.
Every time we’d prepare for a family party, I’d prep with his music playing. For birthdays, we’d have “Lovely Cruise” playing. We had Jimmy Buffett’s music on so much that at one point, one of my kids said, with the other nodding in agreement, “Dad, you’re ruining Jimmy Buffett for us.” And I didn’t want to do that.
Because our love for Jimmy runs deep. I can’t tell you how many times we sat on the couch in the kitchen while I read Jolly Mon and Trouble Dolls, coauthored with his daughter Savannah. At their grandparents’ house in Key West, a wooden tiki-like figure looms over the kitchen. We all know him as Jolly Mon. Back in cold New England, my kids felt safe at night with the little trouble dolls nearby. And yes, I love all of Jimmy’s Christmas albums.
So many memories of sitting outside having dinner in Key West at Dick and Debbie’s, listening to Jimmy, knowing that when the wind was blowing a certain direction, you could hear him playing on Duval Street. Having lunch at Louie’s Backyard and knowing what he meant by cheeseburgers in paradise and how he felt writing “Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season” while he was living next door to the bar many years ago. The colder the temps were outside, the warmer his music was. And yes, thank you, JB Paris is a mighty long airplane ride.
I read all his books. The man could not keep still. I remember reading how he was always sure to count the receipts at the end of the night. He was a one-of-a-kind musician and businessman. After all, he had boats to build, planes to buy, and fly fishing trips to take to St. Somewhere.
Listening to all the tributes to Jimmy over the weekend on radio Margaritaville was cathartic. When one listener called in, she said she had been listening to him for 50 years, and he meant so much to her family. His passing was such a shock. So sudden. She could barely get the words out when she was asked what song she’d like to hear. “If the Phone Doesn’t Ring, It’s Me,” she cried. Sail on Jimmy.
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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