In Key West, they held a New Orleans-style funeral procession for Jimmy Buffett in which a band plays somber music that suddenly pivots into a fast-paced song. It’s a bit of mourning followed by a big celebration.
In the Conch Republic, tho, it was much more of a celebration. An estimated 2,500 people took part in it. An attempt at a moment of silence failed because people stated singing Jimmy Buffett songs. The parade then stopped and turned into a block party. A Miami TV station went live – uninterrupted – for more than 30 minutes. Thirty minutes! That’s reserved for popes and presidents. In Fort Meyers, there was a boat parade. Led by tiki boats, of course.
“Jimmy was bigger than Elvis,” one fan said. Perhaps. It is true that Elvis’ popularity had faded and it took his death to resurrect interest in him. Buffett was still selling out concerts in less than a day.
Friends are calling me in tears. They are breaking down while telling me their Jimmy Buffett stories, often unable to finish sentences. Heck, I’ve shed a few myself so I can certainly relate to their emotions.
At least he did not die suddenly. It wasn’t in a bathroom like Elvis, in a plane crash like Buddy Holly or Lynyrd Skynyrd (tho he came close to that, in 1994, when a wave caught the wingtip of his seaplane and flipped him underwater. He would have died then except he had just undergone Navy Seals training and was told that when you get disoriented in the water to follow the “bubbles up” to the surface). Nor was it from drug overdose like too many musicians.
No, we saw this coming with canceled concerts and doctor and hospital visits to “address some issues that needed immediate attention” in Jimmy’s own words. While Parrotheads were in denial about his health – “oh he’ll be back on the road, don’t worry about it” and “can’t wait to go to his next concert” were common comments – we had kind of secretly been preparing for this moment for the past several months.
Sill, it came as a shock because, as I wrote in this article, you never expect your heroes to die. He passed away on a Friday night but you thought that by Come Monday he’ll be allright.
Since the news broke on Saturday (PubClub.com wrote about it on Friday night, meaning we had one of the first articles on the Internet) posts have been flowing on social media all weekend – people putting up photos and sharing stories of what Buffett meant to them – in our own kind of Labor Day Weekend show. RIP for Parrotheads now means Rest In Paradise.
Well, up in heaven Jimmy is strummin’ his 6-string on a front porch swing and is looking around for a lost shaker of salt while the rest of us are wastin’ away again in Margaritaville.