I decided to launch my blog today, to send off my new site into the world, because the biggest storytelling hero in my life has passed away. It just seems fitting.
Sure, there were others. I read Hemingway at a very young age and was mystified by his experiences and his style. Reading Kerouac in college set me further on a path of curiosity and exploration. There was Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Flannery and Ferlinghetti. But nobody, and I mean nobody, had the same lifelong impact on me that James William Buffett did.
I'd be a different person without Jimmy. I might be a banker or a lawyer or a scientist, none of which are bad. They're just not me. And here's the thing. Inspiring people don't urge us into things we're not intended to do. They provide the confidence it takes to be who we really are.
Words to make ya happy
Words to make you cry
Then one day the poet suddenly did die
Jimmy was the most popular unpopular poet who ever lived. He turned his songs into a billion-dollar empire. Sure, there are the margaritas and the cheeseburgers and Mondays that will always come, until one day they don't. The Labor Day Weekend Show won't happen. And that's what makes this so tough. The poet suddenly died. Those euphoric nights when it seems like he's singing just to you are gone.
What is it about musicians that make them seem so accessible? There's the obvious. They play the soundtracks to our lives. They have the songs that are on the radio when you're on the way to your own wedding. The tradition of always leaving the shelter of a broken down campsite with the same ditty. The lyrics that will help you get through the things in life that you're dreading the most. And maybe that's just it. The music is always there, whenever you need it. The musician, then, is always accessible. The man with the guitar and the perfect words at just the right time becomes your friend. He becomes a mentor. An inspiration. A person who encourages you to get through a bad day. A figure who forces you to face your own fears and accomplish your own big dreams. And whether it's 24 hours or 76 of the most amazing years, it's really not that long a stay. But the music, the work itself, well, that stays forever.
When an idol and an icon dies, what's left to do? Many people all across the internet are asking the same thing. What do the Parrotheads do now? How are we supposed to go on? And I guess that leads me to this, to the place where I can finally write about it. For me, Jimmy always represented the potential of what I can do. He nudged me to be true to myself, to be my best version. He told me to not take myself too seriously. He always reminded me that my own stories are out there for the telling.
Oh I love the smell of fresh snapper fried lite
What'd you say, pouilly fuisse could round out the night
The mid morning watch is the best time to look
Oh what would they do if I wrote the big book
Jimmy, I have no other choice. There's no landfall in my future. For those of us who feel the same way about the death of this most popular of unpopular poets -- and there are so, so many of us -- we only have one real choice. To keep the bow pointed straight ahead. To sail on into whatever comes our way. To pull the rigging just a little tighter and find out, once and for all, what they will do when I write my big book.
Bubbles Up, Jimmy. You'll always be an inspiration. Stay tuned up there because I'm close to finishing this thing, and I couldn't have done it without you.