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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Remembering Jimmy Buffett, who spent his life putting joy into the world

His songs made him sound like the definition of “laid back.” In reality, Jimmy Buffett, who died Friday at age 76, was something of a workaholic. Our contributor Bill Flanagan has an appreciation:


Jimmy Buffett was a good friend of mine. And I was not the only one. Jimmy had friends all over the world, from Savannah to Havana, from Mali to Bali.

He was a pilot and a sailor, a traveling man who felt at home in a fleabag in Timbuktu or a five-star hotel in Paris.

Jimmy was equally comfortable in the company of philosophers and pirates – maybe because he was a bit of both.

I don’t think I ever knew anyone with more positive life force. Even when he was in treatment for cancer this last year, Jimmy would come out of the hospital and, instead of resting like he was supposed to, he would jump on one of his planes and fly across the country to play a show. He got something out of his audience that was better than medicine.

He started out playing bars in New Orleans and working as a journalist. In his songwriting he combined those two vocations. He specialized in writing about misfits and shady characters, folks who did not fit into conventional society.

Jimmy was allergic to taking himself seriously. He said his audience worked hard all week; he owed them a two-hour vacation.

Jimmy said he started his first Margaritaville restaurant and bar in Key West because he figured if he owned his own saloon, he would always have a place to play. It was a fallback in case his musical career fizzled out.

Jimmy Buffett was the most positive person I ever knew. Everything was an adventure, and if the adventure went sideways, well, we’d come home with a good story.

In his final days he assured his friends he would be back on his feet in a couple of weeks.

Jimmy Buffett spent his life putting joy into the world.

Bubbles up, Captain. You’re going home.

See also:

“A poet of paradise”: Tributes pour in following the death of Jimmy BuffettFrom 1997: Jimmy Buffett (“60 Minutes” Archive)

Story produced by Alan Golds. Editor: Steven Tyler.

More from Bill Flanagan:

Tina Turner: An appreciation of the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll”Little Richard: An appreciation of the “Quasar of Rock ‘n’ Roll”Bill Flanagan on Woodstock: Sign of the timesAretha Franklin: An appreciationPhilip Roth: An appreciationRemembering rock legend Tom PettyRockers who defy time itselfThe artistry of David BowieA tribute to Allen ToussaintRod Serling, “The Twilight Zone” and TV’s 1st Golden AgeThe Beatles: You say you want a revolution?An appreciation of Pete SeegerThe Everly Brothers: The sweetest DNA of rock and rollMTV’s Bill Flanagan on Michael Jackson’s musicThe soul of Laura NyroJohnny Cash: A Musician For All

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