On Sept. 2, I woke up to the news, like most of the world, that Jimmy Buffett had passed away at 76.
As people do when an artist passes away, I delved into his discography. I listened to anything Buffett made or was featured on. “Margaritaville”, “Come Monday”, and “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” played throughout the following days. Hell, I’m listening to his music as I write this.
Whilst spending the days listening to his music, I had a realization. Buffett’s music meant so much more to me than I had initially knew.
My friends and I began ripping on Buffett and his music while we played Xbox together years ago. We thought his music was just the silly old music that our parents would listen to while they drank. Not to mention, our crude parodies of his music that we thought were the funniest things possible.
As time went on, we would play Buffett’s music regularly during our chilled out gaming sessions. Dare I say, we liked his music. We found some of his songs funny still, but in a different way. Driving down highways, my friends and I would belt out “Cheeseburger in Paradise”, going word-for-word with the now-late singer.
Even my current college days are filled with Buffett. I distinctly recall driving home from the beach with my hometown bestfriends, windows down and the music up, just singing “Margaritaville”. We have Margaritaville flags and glasses in our apartment. It’s a running joke that one of us will come home with a Margaritaville mixer any day now.
This leaves me with one question: Why, of all things there are, does Buffett, his brand and his music mean so much to not only just me, but thousands of others? Those thousands of people would proudly proclaim themselves as “Parrotheads”, the name for Buffett’s fanbase. Why?
Part of me believes this to be in the relatability of Buffett in his wide range of music.
In an USAToday Op-Ed by Bill Sternberg, he carries high praise for the artist while proving the relatabilty of his music.
“As a journalist, I admire good storytelling, and Buffett was, at heart, a writer and raconteur, an American original in the tradition of Mark Twain,” Sternberg said. “When he sang ‘my occupational hazard bein’ my occupation’s just not around’ in ‘A Pirate Looks at Forty,’ it struck a chord with a newspaper guy in a world turned digital.”
I fully believe that no matter your walk of life, you can find something enjoyable about Buffett’s music. There’s a simplicity to some of his music that feed into basic wants of your Joe Schmoe’s and Plain Jane’s. Songs like “Margaritaville” and “The Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful” and “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” capitalize on Buffett’s style of music which highlight island escapism. Everyone just wants to get away from work and drama by getting some sun on a tropical beach with a drink in your hand.
In an interview with RollingStone, Buffett was asked about how he’d like to be remembered.
“I’d say ‘He had a good time and made a lot of people happy’ would be good,” Buffett said. “Yeah, that’d be good.”
For me, I’m still having a great time and enjoying his music. While my friends and I continue to listen to Buffett’s tropical rock and make great memories with each other, I leave you with a line from Buffett’s song “Last Mango in Paris”:
“Our lives change like the weather, but a legend never dies.”