I Weep for Jimmy Buffett, and yet I Hope…

Today as I drove back from Manassas (a/k/a The social and cultural mecca of the east coast) after seeing my father, I popped the new Jimmy Buffett CD into the car player, and as the music began to wash over me I had one sudden, compelling, overwhelming thought…

What in the hell happened to this man?

Understand, I grew up in a musical household. Mom got me listening to the Beatles, and I developed an eclectic taste that had a toe in every pond from Southern Rock to Pop Rock to R&B, and I had a wide variety of LP’s ranging from Jim Croce to Lynyrd Skynyrd to Marvin Gaye and Eddie Kendricks…and of course Jimmy Buffett.

Jimmy Buffett was not only talented and unique, he was the only one of my favorites who surved into my thirties.

Jeff Grady got me listening to him one day in 1975, and I was hooked from the first time I heard the lyrics to “The Great Filling Station Holdup”:

We got fifteen dollars and a can of STP
A big ol’ jar of cashew nuts and a Japanese TV
Feelin’ we had pulled the biggest heist of our career
We’re wanted men, we’ll strike again
But first let’s have a beer

For years I caught every concert I could…I had a drunken pal heave on me at a Kings Dominion concert, and then again at Merriwether Post. I saw Buffett in Nashville, Jacksonville, Pennsylvania, and time and again in Virginia.

Then around 1985, after “Last Mango in Paris”, he seemed to focus more on his various business ventures and less on his music. Maybe as he worked out the strife of his younger days and became more content with life, and it served to bank fire he had. Buffett did not just write songs, but stories about good people and bad times and wild moments and faraway places…now it is all almost interchangeable. Now he has maybe one memorable song per disc…and days like today I find it unbearably disappointing.

But there is hope…

There is hope that one day he will come back, and bring back the mojo of his younger days. I shall never give up the wait, because anyone who can turn out songs and lyrics like that, well…you just can’t give up hope.

Death of an Unpopular Poet (Jimmy Buffett-1973)

I once knew a poet
Who lived before his time
He and his dog Spooner
Would listen while he’d rhyme
Words to make ya happy
Words to make you cry
Then one day the poet suddenly did die

But he left behind a closet
Filled with verse and rhyme
And through some strange transaction
One was printed in the Times
And everybody’s searchin’
For the king of undergound
Well they found him down in Florida
With a tombstone for a crown

Everybody knows a line
From his book that cost four ninety-nine
I wonder if he knows he’s doin’
Quite this fine

‘Cause his books are all best sellers
And his poems were turned to song
Had his brother on a talk show
Though they never got along
And now he’s called immortal
Yes he’s even taught in school
They say he used his talents
A most proficient tool

But he left all of his royalties
To Spooner his ol’ hound
Growin’ old on steak and bacon
In a doghouse ten feet ’round
And everybody wonders
Did he really lose his mind
No he was just a poet who lived before his time
He was just a poet who lived before his time

Why do I wait? Because I believe, and because I believe I still hope…

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5 thoughts on “I Weep for Jimmy Buffett, and yet I Hope…

  1. Amen, Bwana of the Jungle! Frustrates me as well. Death of An Unpopular Poet is one of my very favorites. Creola, Nobody Speaks To The Captain No More, No Plane On Sunday, Biloxi – how can THAT songwriter be the same guy who put out Math Suks and I Will Play For Gumbo? I think JB realizes that no matter what kind of garbage he puts out, the Pheads will lap it up. Same on the merchandise side. I will happily admit that “License” and “Take The Weather” are back on track – but “Beach House” and “Far Side” are crap – MAYBE one decent song per disc if I’m being generous. And hey, BTW JB – WE DON’T NEED ANYMORE LIVE ALBUMS OR COMPILATIONS. You can rerecord Cheesburger 100 times – we get it already! I just got back from a trip to the Caribbean and there is some seriously messed up bad JB mojo going on down there – check it…http://cageboy.wordpress.com/

  2. I don’t know what happened…but I reckon the “Floridays” album was about the time, to paraphrase the master, that “it all came down, came down, came down, came down!”

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