Jimmy Buffett: My Sweetest Enemy
Jimmy Buffett just passed away today, and this is a big deal.
I am among the generation of Panhandle youth abused by his music blaring out of every lousy beach bar in town. The only break we ever got from this racket was a moment of "Brown Eyed Girl" [Which I thought was his song, too, for a while] or "Mustang Sally." Either way, his songs were the musical equivalent of ranch dressing and were, for years, what I thought would be part of the soundtrack in hell. It wasn't until I left the area and was in my 30s that I finally heard an actual Jimmy Buffett recording. Before that, I had only heard other bands cover his songs.
So, while on a solo tour as a songwriter, I went down into a “Buffett Hole” and streamed all of his music. My punk rock art snob judgments had softened, and I could hear this man’s genius. Few people can write catchier songs and carve out a niche like Mr. Buffett [Notice the new respectful tone… He is now Mr. Buffett. I used to just call him, “This song sucks. Let’s get out of here.”]
You know his songs before they end. They’re simple, and the craft was perfect. You’re a genius when you can sing about your favorite beach bar menu items and get millions singing along. Seriously, write a song about a cheeseburger, record it, try to sell it enough to break even, then get back to me. Hearing his songwriting humbled the hell out of me. I was a self-righteous artist who wouldn't shut up about their problems and breakups, all in an attempt to save money on therapy by going through it on stage in front of strangers. I got Buffett checked!
Although I never really became a fan, that trip down the Buffet Hole and hearing his genius taught me a lot about authenticity, being okay with feeling good, the importance of time and place, and enjoying and noticing how simple things can make you feel.
I don’t like hamburgers or drink alcohol. However, there are two exceptions I would make in life. I would have had a margarita with Mr. Buffett, I would rather have a burger, but it’s his choice, and I would also love to smoke weed and do karate with Willie Nelson.
Willie is still with us, so there’s time. Let's make it happen.
Mr. Buffett… Thank you, Rest in Paradise
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