Wednesday, March 02, 2011

In Perspective — My Apologies to Jimmy Buffett

I am a person who tries to live my life by never having to say I'm sorry. But
this week I owe somebody a huge apology.

A couple of years ago I wrote a column about Jimmy Buffett where I said I didn't understand his allure. It was shortly after one of his summer concerts in the Dallas area, where about 100,000 of Jimmy's closest friends — Parrot Heads — came out to watch. I could not understand why people would want to sweat in the hot sun and listen to a guy who — I said at the time — only had one good song in his bag of tricks.

I. Was. Wrong.

I was terribly wrong and I am deeply sorry, Jimmy. I know you are probably an avid reader of this column in spite of how I wronged you back then and I really hope you accept my apology.

For most of my life I truly believed that "Margaritaville" was the only Jimmy Buffett song that anybody cared about. And while that may be true about most of the world, I now know that is not true for true Parrot Heads who love the message behind all of Jimmy's music. 

Jimmy arrived in Nashville in the late 1960s hoping to make a name for himself with his brand of music. What he quickly found out was Nashville has a way of helping artists forget who they are.

After arriving, Jimmy signed a contract to record two album projects. The first one didn't do very well with fans and especially radio executives, who sometimes make or break artists. Because of his contract, he put together the second album, but the masters were "lost" and the record never was released. Well, it was released but only after the master tapes were miraculously found after Jimmy
finally made it big with "Margaritaville."

A discouraged Jimmy moved in for a little while with his friend Jerry Jeff Walker in Key West, Fla. It was in Key West where Jimmy "found" his voice again and started the ball rolling for him to become the messenger he is today.

After I wrote that column, somebody sent a letter to the editor taking me to task about Jimmy Buffett and told me I didn't understand the true pirate spirit and why people follow Jimmy Buffett all over the world to hear his message in song.

They were right. Maybe I owe them an apology as well. I have spent the last week or so in Key West and I understand the message in Jimmy's song now maybe more than ever.

Like Jimmy, I have always been a sort of rebel that didn't get along well with the establishment. "The Man" has always rubbed me the wrong way and I have been told on more than one occasion that I needed to change my ways, to become somebody else, somebody better.

For a while I tried to do that. I tried to fit the mold "The Man" wanted. But somehow in the trying, I lost myself.

A little soul searching helped me finally figure out that molds don't fit anybody really, especially me.

The message started to sink in a couple of years ago when I discovered the some new friends and the lake life. The lake life is about anti-establishment for the most part. The Man doesn't exist at the lake.

And The Man doesn't exist in Jimmy Buffett songs. His message is completely void of any molds. Jimmy's songs talks about freedom to live life to the fullest.

On my journey to rediscovery I have found some secrets to living life to the fullest. I know these secrets may only apply to me, but they do work for me.

Some of those secrets have been discovered recently in Jimmy's music. I discovered that we sometimes have to search for our "lost shakers of salt." I found out that when it's cold, a lot of people start dreaming of "boat drinks." Jimmy taught me that cheeseburgers are better in paradise. And I learned that maybe I too am the son of a son of a sailor.

You might recognize this message from Jimmy: "Where it all ends I can't fathom my friends. If I knew I might toss out my anchor. So I cruise along always searchin' for songs. Not a lawyer, a thief or a banker."

Here's to hoping we can all "cruise along searchin' for songs." And maybe even discover ourselves along the way.

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