Jimmy Buffett: Boats, Beaches, Bars, & Ballads

This post is in the theme “My Aquatic Childhood and my Father the Pirate”. Read the first.

May 29, San Diego: The title of Jimmy Buffett’s greatest hits album is, appropriately, Songs You Know By Heart. Any fan of Jimmy Buffett has lived many years of their life scored by his music and knows every note inside and out. But also, any true fan of Jimmy Buffett knows that the real treasure horde of Buffett songs is in the box set Boats, Bars, Beaches, and Ballads. Yesterday, I cued that sucker up to shuffle and let it play.

The very first song is exactly why Buffett features in my life at all: “Son of a Son of a Sailor”. That was my Dad. That’s me. From a long line o sailors. And we had a purer connection to that soft country twang and steel drum rhythms than 99% of other aspiring parrotheads. We would listen to these songs on worn-out cassettes in anchorages across the Caribbean. Myself, in various stages of tiny, my Dad with his deep-hued suntan and his arm around my Mom, more than likely with her sunglasses on. Sitting in the cockpit of the “Mimi”, listening to the music and musing.

We lived on the “Mimi” for about six years before we moved to land. We eventually sold her, but after some time my Dad found another boat, named her the “Mimi” and while we didn’t live aboard again, we would still spend some time cruising. Whether in a stained teak sailboat cockpit or poolside at a condo, this music offered us a tie back to the ocean. Back to our life on the seas.

I don’t know if this music is any good or not (well, I’m pretty sure it’s not good) but it’s scrawled too indelibly into my memory to ever let it go. As the son of a son of sailor or just the son of a pirate 400 years too late, this is for better or worse the music of my people.

You, the secret parrothead in the corner. You should probably go and buy the boxed set, shouldn’t you?

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