It’s been a quiet week, for the most part. I’m starting to pay more attention to football. As I write this on Saturday afternoon, Michigan handled UNLV quite capably, winning 35-7. Tulane looked really good against Ole Miss for the first half. The Green Wave came into the game as 8-point underdogs. They were winning 17-10 at the half but couldn’t quite keep it together. That last fumble made the score look worse than it really was, I think. Horton did a decent enough job as a backup against a pretty good SEC team. He and the team have nothing to be ashamed of.
I’m still trying to process a world without Jimmy Buffett.
I was never really a Parrothead. For the longest time, I blew it off as a marketing thing. I told myself I wasn’t interested in that aspect of things because I was focused on the music. That seems pretty lame now, but there you have it. I didn’t follow many of the Buffett websites either, though I’ve been enjoying the tributes so many of them are sharing to Facebook.
I’ve been sad about his death this last week, but not much beyond that. Then I caught this performance by Mac McAnally, Jimmy’s guitarist and co-author for so many songs. This was his first show since Jimmy’s death, and I can’t imagine the professional and personal fortitude it took for Mac and Eric to come out on stage. I will admit that when the first chords of “A Pirate Looks At Forty” rang out, the room got a little dusty.
This Eagles tribute didn’t help matters at all.
I don’t have any great Jimmy stories like so many people have posted on social media this week. Never met him or got to catch one of his impromptu shows in a bar. I only managed to make it two concerts, in ‘83 and ’95, and I don’t remember much about the first one.
But my God his music got me through some rough times in life.
I’ve got 14 of his 57 albums, from 1974’s Living and Dying in 3/4 Time to 2007’s Live in Anguilla, and that only counts the CDs I’ve ripped. At one time I owned vinyl copies of several others, including You Had To Be There, which was my introduction to Jimmy. At some point in the last fifteen years or so, I pulled back from buying music in general, opting for Pandora to meet my needs. I have a hunch I’m going to go on a buying spree soon though.
I played the daylights out of his music on my trips between Columbus and Pittsburgh when I traveled to pick up Oldest Son from his mother. Played a lot of it during way too many drunken weekends, too.
I’ll often post the video for “Trip Around The Sun” on Facebook for friends’ birthdays. It’s a reflective song about how little control we have in our lives. I like that reminder.
I’m working on a Buffett tribute for my “Music For a Sunday Afternoon” series, but it’s proving more difficult than I expected. He told far too many wonderful stories in his songs to narrow it down in any reasonable way.
The Atlantic had an interesting piece about What Really Happens When Americans Stop Going to Church. The idea is that “people hold on to their politics when they stop attending church.” I don’t know that I agree with that thesis. It didn’t happen to me. Or maybe it was my changing politics that helped lead me down the road of deconstruction?
The Economist posted this article, Lots of people mourn when famous writers and musicians die. Why? The writer dances around a question I’ve asked several times, but I’m not sure I like their answer, which amounts to, “It doesn’t make sense.” They used the word “irrational.”
I’ve never quite understood what drives people to vigils that memorialize stars. The article leads with a photo of Tina Turner’s Hollywood star with bouquets of flowers around it. I can’t think of any celebrity of any kind in my lifetime that I’d do something like that for. Let’s face it: if I didn’t grieve that way for Meat Loaf or Jimmy Buffett, I’m probably not going to grieve that way for anyone.
I’ll admit I cried when, during the aftermath of the assassination attempt on President Reagan, it was erroneously announced that James Brady had died. That wasn’t grief over him though. I think that was just a visceral response from a 15-year-old to the overall trauma of the day.
My response to 9/11 was to go home and hug my family, and to put the American flag out (though my wife had already done that). I didn’t attend any memorial services or prayer vigils though.
But everyone grieves differently. I spent most of last weekend listening to Spotify’s Jimmy Buffett channel or some of my Buffett library. I scrolled through a lot of tributes to him, from family, friends, crew, and total strangers who’d never met him, but had been touched by his music. That was the appropriate way for me to grieve. What’s right for me may not be right for you, and vice versa.
So while I don’t understand what drives some people to mourn or grieve the way they do, I’m not going to be critical of it. It’s okay if a particular singer or author or musician or actor meant more to you than they meant to someone else. It just means they touched your life differently, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
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