A Toast To Jimmy Buffett

I’m sad today, but feel compelled to celebrate the life of someone who brought much joy to me, and to my family. So, this is my version of an ode, and a hearty toast, to Jimmy Buffett, who died last night at age 76. The son of a son of a sailor who left us too soon.

This post is for Mom, who adored Jimmy and, at age 90, still wanted to jitterbug to “Margaritaville” at her recent birthday party.

This is for my sister Geri and her husband John, who play his CDs every time I visit (usually for Mom). John grew up in the same Mississippi Gulf Coast spot as Jimmy. John’s mother, the late Maryalice “Bubs” Fairbanks Miner, taught this wild man who went on to be an icon to swim. John and Geri are also sailboat enthusiasts, not surprisingly.

John used to have to travel a lot for his job, and he would sing one of Jimmy’s tunes to my sister before departing, “And if I had the money, honey, I’d strap you in beside me, and never ever leave you, leave you at home all alone and cryin’.”

This post is to share the absolute best memory I have of Jimmy Buffett. In August of 2000, I was lucky enough to be on the White House lawn for the celebration of President Bill Clinton’s birthday. As we waited for the president to appear, I noticed the band instruments assembled looked familiar. The Coral Reefer Band.

Sure enough, out strolled Jimmy to announce he’d sing a special song in tribute to his friend Bill. Not Happy Birthday to You,” but “We Are the People Our Parents Warned Us About.” Perfect.

That song begins with the lyrics, “I was supposed to have been a Jesuit Priest or a Naval Academy grad.” I can attest that it was popular with USNA midshipmen in the early 1990s. Jimmy Buffett was a great supporter of the Navy and Marine Corps.

If you only knew this man for “Margaritaville” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” you’re missing a paragon of lyrical wit and thoughtful commentary on life. He also spent 40 years helping to save the manatees in Florida. As if we needed another reason to love him.

Jimmy Buffet sang songs that made us happy, and we sang along with a great deal of exuberance (and yes, sometimes drunkenness).

Fair winds and following seas to the man who gave us “changes in latitude, changes in attitude,” and could also admit that, “Some people say there’s a woman to blame, but I know, it’s my own damn fault.”

So much love for this guy. Grateful his musical legacy will live on. We very much need Jimmy’s wisdom and the fun that came with it. Even when we couldn’t find our lost shaker of salt.

Because, as this amazing musical poet once sang, “If we weren’t all crazy we would go insane.”


6 thoughts on “A Toast To Jimmy Buffett”

  1. Your loving tribute to Jimmy captured all the things we will miss. We love you and we love him. Love, your dancing mom!!!

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