It must have been around 1983 when I first heard the name Jimmy Buffett. As a 14 year old, his songs were not on my playlist although I was familiar with Margaritaville. My brother was heading to one of his concerts and that was about all I knew of him and his music.
Boy, was that about to change a few years later. I had a car that ate just about every cassette tape I would put in there. For some reason, it did not tear up a cassette that I found called Songs You Know By Heart-Jimmy Buffett’s Greatest Hits. As I would drive up and down I-65 going back and forth to Samford University, I put this in because I needed to listen to music and I was hooked almost instantly.
I ended up knowing all thirteen songs on that tape backwards and forwards. I then bought the other cassettes and that is all I played in that car until I got rid of it. My first Buffett concert was in August of 1989 at Starwood and I drove to the concert playing all of his songs and ready to have a good time.
I had no idea that a Jimmy Buffett concert was more than a concert. I don’t think I could aptly describe what I felt that night but I know it has stayed with me since then. I ended up seeing him every year until 2003 and it got better each and every time.
Someone asked me this past weekend why I loved him and his music so much. I thought for about thirty seconds and said, He lived a life that we all wanted, whether we admitted it or not. He did life on his terms, not yours, n0t mine, but his. His music made us laugh, made us think, made us cry and made us happy. He was one of us in so many ways. He was far from perfect and was as self-deprecating as they came.
His concerts were an escape from life for a few hours and in that time, we might as well had been on stage with him. It wasn’t a concert; it was an experience.
He was Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Lennon and McCartney and Ernest Hemingway rolled into one. Songs, adventure, sass and a friend that most of us never met but we didn’t have to. He knew us better than we knew ourselves.