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Jimmy Buffett... The Guy Other Musicians Just Don't Appreciate


When I was just a kid of eleven or twelve my brother would sometimes take me to school in his white Ford F-150 pickup. I can remember vividly the first time he shoved Changes in Latitudes into the 8 track player. As the tracks floated out of the speakers like a sweet ocean breeze, I was instantly transported to exotic places I’d never been. I also had an epiphany about the power of storytelling and music, even if I didn’t realize it at that particular moment. Jimmy wasn’t out to change the world like Bob Dylan perhaps… but he sure changed my perception of what music could be.

At that point in my life I was heavily into playing the drums and absorbing every nuance of Buddy Rich’s playing that I could. It wouldn’t be until several years later that I rediscovered Jimmy’s brand of songwriting through my father, John Hensler. My old man had turned me on to Big Band music when I was 4 years old and now he was helping to mold my musical sensibilities once again as a teenager. There was a pureness to the joy that my dad found in Jimmy’s music. A joy that has the ability to soothe the pain that life occasionally throws your way. That’s about as close to real life magic as you can find.

Over the course of many years of playing and writing my own music, I keep coming back to Jimmy Buffett as a musical inspiration and a role model for someone trying to succeed in the music business. He’s become incredibly successful on his own terms. With very little commercial radio airplay, he’s taken a lifestyle and turned it into a multi-million dollar brand. And by all accounts he’s a nice guy too. Ya know… some guys have a lot of nerve.

I’ve known a ton of musicians in my 54 years on planet Earth and I’ve had a hard time finding any of them that truly appreciate what Jimmy does as much as I do... and I still haven’t figured out why. His music has never sought to cure social injustice, unless you view a 9 to 5 job as a social injustice. But… he captures the essence of what so many people lack in their day to day lives, a sense of freedom and adventure. His fans understand that and embrace it in all of its sun soaked glory.

So what is it about Jimmy’s body of work that irks so many musicians? Maybe someday one of my musically inclined friends will be able to help me understand what’s so wrong with loving Jimmy Buffett’s music. So far… all I can drag out of them is, “Oh my gawd… I hate Jimmy Buffett.” Until that time, I’m going to keep soaking up the sun and living vicariously through the song stylings of James William Buffett.

Hey Jimmy… Thanks for everything!

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