Well, fucking damn.
Woke up this morning to find that Jimmy Buffett had died. Seventy six years old. Didn't see that coming. Not at all. That son-of-son-of-a-sailor was immortal in my mind. And it hit me pretty hard.
You know how I talk frequently about how music can save your life? Well it can, and it's not always The Beatles or George Harrison or The Rolling Stones or Bach, either.
Sometimes it can be Jimmy Buffett.
People dismiss him and his music. People who don't know any better. And I'm not here to argue about that for one second.
What I am here for is to tell you that if Jimmy Buffett didn't save my life, he sure did lay a hell of a lot of healing on me.
A long time ago, back in the twentieth century some time, one of my best friends died. I've talked about her a lot- Sue. I was with her when she went from this place to that, and it was, if such a thing is possible (and it is), a beautiful death. People around here often say in obituaries that their loved one "transitioned" and that is absolutely how Sue-Sue did it. She transitioned with grace and ease and I was astounded at the peace of that afternoon when she left us.
One can only imagine how deeply affected I was. It took me a long time to really come to terms with how much Sue's death and the experience I was so honored to share had opened my vision and my awareness. I was learning about grief. Really, really learning for the first time in my life
Another gift that Sue gave me.
But, there were periods of that time when I was deeply cast down into a heavy, dark depression. And during that depression, Glen and I had been invited to go to a Jimmy Buffett concert with friends of ours. They'd bought up a block of tickets for friends, none of whom I knew except for that one couple.
And I did not want to go.
I was at that place where there was no seeming possibility of joy and even the idea of going to a raucous concert with screaming Parrot Heads singing along to "Margaritaville" was something I could not imagine.
But. I got dressed for the concert. There was supposed to be a gathering party first for all the folks who were going together and I could not get out of our car when we got there. I couldn't do it. I was angry and I was sad and I was hurting. I was in pain.
I did everything I could to try and convince Glen to take me home and go to the concert without me. But he wouldn't.
And you know what happened? We got in our seats in the nosebleed section and the stage was down there somewhere but of course there was a Jumbotron and when Buffett came on stage with his Coral Reefer band (the man did love a pun) wearing a T-shirt, shorts, and no shoes, grinning like a holy drunk on a Saturday night, I paid attention. And before I knew it, the insane joy of the crowd as he and his band played infected me a little bit and of course, Jimmy's songs are in all of our heads whether we've ever consciously listened to one in our life, and the audience knew all of them by heart, even a little boy sitting in front of me who told me that this was something like his fifth Jimmy Buffett concert, and...I got it. Everyone was out of their seats. Everyone was dancing. Everyone's pain was lifted for at least a little while.
The man wasn't peddling music (although the music was good and his band amazing), he was peddling happiness.
And that is when I began to come back to life, a breath at a time. Jimmy Buffett did that.
I wrote a post in 2013 about how his music continued to be a part of my adapting to life without Sue. You can find it HERE.
You've heard the story before but I think it's a beautiful piece, if I do say so. And I've probably told this concert story before too but hell. Jimmy died last night. His family said that he was surrounded "by family, friends, music, and dogs. He lived his life like a song till the very last breath and will be missed beyond measure for so many."
I'm one of them.
And you know what? That song that I posted last night by Todd Snider? Well, I discovered Todd Snider at the second (and last) concert of Buffett's that I went to. He opened for Jimmy.
And. Jimmy wrote a song memorializing the brilliant Bill Wharton, the second person I met when I moved to Tallahassee. It's a great song. "I Will Play For Gumbo." Bill is a performer who makes gumbo on the stage at his performances and then he serves it up to all the folks. He makes his own brand of hot sauce so he's known, of course, as the Sauce Boss.