A few weeks ago, singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett passed away. The Retro Dad wrote a great blog about Mr. Buffett, and it’s been on my mind, so I thought I’d share a few thoughts too.
Like everyone, I knew Jimmy Buffett as the guy who sang Margaritaville. I doubt I could have named another song until sometime around 2009 when I found myself in a weird place mentally. It was the great recession, I was in a terrible marriage, I was healing from some traumatic family problems, and barely holding on. I was (still am) wound a bit tight, and well… I needed something to give me some breathing room. I needed a new motto or lifestyle to encourage me to not take things so seriously.
I can’t remember how it all came about, but I found myself reading about Matthew McConaughey living in an Airstream and adopting the philosophy of JK Living (Just Keep Living) based on the popular quote from Dazed and Confused. As a guy who was dealing with a ton of anxiety, the idea that I could choose to live a simpler life and that the only thing I needed to accomplish was waking up each day inspired me.
I found myself seeking out a more minimalist life, one where I didn’t spend all of my money and didn’t surround myself with physical objects that didn’t make me happy. I changed up the entertainment I consumed, the people I conversed with, and the music I listened to. In a search for a more relaxing sound, I was drawn to Kenny Chesney, Mishka, and Jimmy Buffett.
Fun, laid back, soothing… the beach tunes filled my summer. My iPod was filled with these tunes as I listened to them in non-stop rotation. I dressed a little lighter and tried to chill a bit more, and while it didn’t stick for long it did give me the space I needed to just exist and heal.
Jimmy Buffett’s music really spoke to me, which is odd since I don’t drink nor do drugs, so quite a bit of it wasn’t relatable. I am a “Son of a Son of a Sailor” and at the time of listening to “Summercoolz” I was hoping to not participate in the recession, and I would have loved to been swept away to “Margaritaville.” I fell in love with the “Coast of Carolina”, and I’ll never forget the comfort his songs provided me.
I read through his autobiography and even made an hour-long drive to pick up some Margaritaville boat shoes. I saw there were local Parrothead meetups, but I was about thirty years younger than most of the folks in the pictures, and as relaxing as Jimmy Buffet’s music was it did attract a rowdy crowd or well… a drunk crowd.
I learned this firsthand when I made a trip to the local amphitheater to see Jimmy Buffett in concert. If I’m honest, it is probably what cooled my fandom. The Coastal Credit Union Amphitheater (then Walnut Creek Amphitheater) is a horrible place to see a show. It’s so bad, I’ve refused to go back, and this was the final concert I saw there. I knew the muddy parking lots and lack of security and atmosphere was terrible (I was puked on a few months earlier at a Journey concert there), but I really wanted to see Jimmy Buffett, so I bought my tickets for the April 19th, 2011 show.
Concerts have this ability to make you feel seen and heard. You unite with a bunch of strangers to appreciate something that is personal to you all. Sometimes it’s the only time you can be with others in real life that appreciate the same type of music that you do, and it makes you feel part of something bigger than yourself. As I walked toward the amphitheater that day, I felt the exact opposite. Folks had been tailgating for hours, they were high, drunk, and acting like fools. As I walked by car after car, I didn’t feel united, instead I felt estranged. These weren’t my people, and I didn’t fit in with this crowd, and I think that feeling not only made a crack in my fandom, but also cooled my interest in going to concerts.
Jimmy Buffett was incredible. He put on a fantastic show, told a few stories about living in North Carolina and I don’t regret anything music wise about that night. But it was the end of a chapter for me, as his music exited my regular rotation, along with most of the bands I had been listening to around that time.
The Retro Dad’s post linked a recent Buffett song called Bubbles Up. It’s soft, sweet, and inspiring. I was always more of a Come Monday fan than a Margaritaville, so I appreciated the ballad and I’ve been listening to it off and on lately.