Commentary: Goodbye, Jimmy

Published 4:33 pm Tuesday, September 12, 2023

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By Natalie Kavanagh

Jimmy Buffett left us week on the heels of a hurricane.

The traditional end of summer celebration of Labor Day weekend turned into a three day wake for the writer and musician. Everywhere you went his songs were on the radio and people were sharing stories of concerts and music memories. I think he would have liked that.

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I’m sure that some won’t understand this outpouring of grief for a celebrity. We have lost others who were contributors to the soundtrack of our lives. But this one hits harder here because Jimmy Buffett was ours. He belonged to the coastal communities and to the people who lived and worked in them. He not only sang for the tourists but also the people who tended to them. The captains and mates, the bartenders and waitresses, the house cleaners and shop workers all leaned on him to get through life.

For those of us who live in the salt air, mind the time by the pull of the tide, and whose bloodlines run back to sailors, surfmen, and pirates too, his music has meaning. His songs are filled with details of our lives – fishing, boats, good food, the weather, the skies, the sun and sand. He sang of love and loss, work and play, things that are real and things that are dreamed. He celebrated play but also stood for hard work and generous giving. Something we all can relate to around here. He was famous, but kept on being a regular kind of guy.

I saw him in concert in Tampa Bay and got tickets late. The only seats left were in the side of the stage in back of the stadium. I figured at least we can kind of see him and still hear him. But, in the middle of the show he went around to the back of the stage and played several songs for us, saying, “You didn’t think I’d forget about y’all, did you?” It showed he appreciated us too.

When he came through the Outer Banks years ago he was on his own, driving himself to things he wanted to do. I’ll never forgive my co-workers for not telling me that one of the most famous musicians in the world was downstairs in our tackle shop!

So, the mourning continues but in a Jimmy way. Play his songs, read good books, go for a boat ride, help someone in need, catch a fish, look at the stars, and tell your stories. Because these are all Jimmy things.

#JimmyBuffett #ThankyouJimmy #GoodbyefromHatteras