Image via Jimmy Buffett on Facebook
Perennial Gulf Coast hero and Florida Keys legend Jimmy Buffett passed away peacefully at age 76, reportedly surrounded by loved ones, music, and pups. Buffett’s 2022 touring year wrapped with notices of canceled concert dates due to illness. But his timeless charm and stubbornly youthful approach to life had us all assuming he’d be back on the trail in no time. Today’s news took the wind out of many sails, including ours. We share in the planet’s sadness and shock.
Jimmy Buffett was such a fabulous conundrum. Born and raised on the Alabama Gulf Coast, and having done time in Nashville, he began his career as a sort of Jimmy Webb-like troubadour vagabond and wrapped it up in a flourish as a prosperous Warren Buffett-style tycoon – thanks to a mythical lifestyle fueled by his half-a-century’s worth of songbook.
Having made his fateful, if relatively short-lived move to Key West, Buffett so perfectly captured that certain Floridian languor on his third album, 1973’s A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean. While the album was not a smash, it turned the tide for Buffett and set his course for what was to become a tsunami of success.
The next year, Buffett wrote and released what might be the greatest song of his career, “Come Monday.” Calling such an early song an artist’s greatest might seem to dismiss 50 years of music. But “Come Monday” is a true stand-out, not only earning Buffett further commercial cred, but also establishing him as a serious and heartfelt master of American songcraft, capable of depths beyond novelty.
In 1977, “Margaritaville” would become the rocketship that launched the career trajectory and lifestyle branding that we know today.
As an aside, we’d just like to add that as an ol’ gal who came up in the Buffett heyday of South Florida, we have a lot of body memory and visceral sensation – good and not so – about his music. On one hand, there are those grody recollections of old men on barstools or drunken frat boys at keggers leaning into our ear, slurring, “Why don’t we get drunk and screw!” On the other hand, there’s the man, James William Buffett, the first in line to pretty much every hurricane relief effort and manatee cause, the soul behind “Come Monday,” “Survive,” and “Live, Like It’s Your Last Day,” and the sensitive songsmith who made his living wrestling with the very fame that earned it.
We had so much we wanted to ask him in our fantasy interview – when this site would eventually scale, rendering us relevant in the minds of those who grant interviews – due to our mutual Gulf Coast causes and love. We just never imagined that this would be the reason for Jimmy Buffett’s first appearance on the Go! Gulf States homepage.
A Jimmy Buffett Media Round-Up
We offer this collection of stories, in no particular order, and with no particular significance, other than to honor the dude, and to give you – no matter where you lounge on the Buffett spectrum – a few things to ponder and smile about. Be sure to click the links!
It may not be the song with which he’s most associated, but the simplicity, sweetness, and sincerity reflected in the no-budget video of “Come Monday” (click, then scroll down), puts it in its own class.
And this cordial, almost affectionate interview from 1983 with David Letterman offers some more insight and a bit of an update on the song.
THE AUSTIN CONNECTION TO MARGARITAVILLE
In this article, the Austin American-Statesman plants a flag for the Texas capital city as an important part of JB’s biggest hit and brand-launcher, “Margaritaville.”
Austin’s Michael “Corky” Corcoran goes a bit deeper into where this all occured, exactly.
ALWAYS CARRYING ON
This list would feel incomplete without some acknowledgement of Buffett’s long-time friends and collaborators. This USA Today piece is about how JB surprised his old pal Mac McAnally onstage recently, in the summer of 2023.
And this article from Music Mayhem posts Kenny Chesney’s tribute to his dear friend.
AND CARRYING ON INTO FUTURE GENERATIONS
There’s no doubt that Jimmy Buffett’s music and legacy will live on. One million Parrotheads can’t be wrong. And sometimes the tributes and influence will be carried on by folks you might not expect – like Jenny Lewis.
Thank you for the music.
Fair winds & following seas, Cap’n