An open letter to Jimmy Buffett (and my fellow ParrotHeads)

Sometimes a thought creeps into your cranium that you wish never made itself known. When I read that actor Alan Rickman died at age 69 it hit me. David Bowie was also 69 years of age when he passed a few days ago, and they say these things come in threes. So when I remembered that our dear bubba, Jimmy Buffett just turned 69, I fought the urge to panic.

And then I thought, “why do we always wait until someone has died before the outpouring of love and remembrance occurs?” Sure, it’s cliche, to think “you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone”, but what if you do know what you have? Shouldn’t we express our adoration and appreciation out loud while the object of our affection is still among us?

It is in this spirit that I wish to express my gratitude, affection, and admiration to the boy from Mississippi with the best, longest running “summer job”… Jimmy Buffett.

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I am not the  biggest, most dedicated, most outlandish Parrot Head. There are far more out there that have been to more concerts, own more memorabilia, and so forth. But in fandom it shouldn’t be a competition, and that’s one of the things I love about the Parrot Head nation, it’s the warmest, friendliest fandom to which I belong.

Some of my most meaningful friendships are forged from the fire of loving Jimmy Buffett, his music, his writing, his way of life. People that have helped shape me came into my orbit because of this simple songwriter.

One of the greatest things I have learned from being a Jimmy Buffett fan is that you can’t climb the ladder without surrounding yourself with people who can help you, and in turn people whom you can help. The only way Jimmy became such a household name is with the help, support, and brain power of many talented, ambitious people.

No man is an island.

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Yet, it speaks to the type of person that Jimmy is, that he has so many people behind him and beside him that help lift him up. Jimmy is humble. Jimmy has never been “too big” to help someone else who is a talented musician or performer. He understands that someone else’s success or happiness does not lessen your own.

A rising tide lifts all ships.

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On this morning of another mourning, I simply wish to say, “thank you, Jimmy.” This little letter will most likely never reach you, but I wanted to write it all the same.

You had no intentions of becoming the legend that you are, but there is no denying your talent and your warm, fun loving spirit. Thank you for coming into our lives and touching so many of us with your songs, your written words, and your approach to life.

Whenever your time comes, when you reach that One Particular Harbor and you finally disappear…. well, that may be the lyric you used, but the thing is, you will never disappear. When you sail on, joining your own lineage of sailors, those of us left along the shore will still see you and hear you. Generations after us will do the same.

Drink it up. This one’s for you.

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