Jimmy Buffet

My parents were more AM radio frequency listeners, switching between 610 WTVN and 1460 WBNS, both out of Columbus, for “the rest of the story” from Paul Harvey and sports updates respectively. My friends, on the other hand, could quote AC/DC, Metallica and others, no problem. They listened to the FM end of things all the time and would buy some of the latest musical CDs and dive into the then-newest technology of Napster, where you could download songs digitally, beginning a whole new age for the industry. Regardless, I didn’t grow up with much of any of that playing in the car or at home, let alone going to an actual concert.

However, the first one was none other than for Jimmy Buffet. My sister and her then-boyfriend (now husband) were die-hard Parrotheads come the late 1990’s, and eventually reeled my AM-radio-frequency mom into it as well. I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t overly enthused about the whole event. Those Parrotheads were rather crazy starting in the parking lot and carrying over into the outdoor amphitheater. I’m sure I was trying to act like an often “normal” middle-schooler, too “cool” to participate in whatever antics of the concert-growing crowd that my sister and boyfriend had grown to love. I was always under the impression that my AM-radio-frequency mom felt the same way, being more along the lines of her Sunday worshiping self, when she never liked the idea of applauding during the service even after a well-done choral anthem, as other “not-so-normal” Lutherans decided to start showing their appreciation.

And then, there she was, proving me wrong. She had been reeled into the Parrothead-ness. She was clapping along with Buffet’s beachy beat, almost as if she had miraculously switched her ingrained radio and all-around life appreciation dial. I didn’t hear much beyond Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin and Nat King Cole from her in previous years, but from there on out, there was always a Buffet cassette, and eventually CD, in the car for her to pop in and be mentally transported into the relaxing and hope-filled restoration that all Parrotheads came to crave over the decades.

After Buffet’s death a couple weeks ago, Billboard put together what they believed to be his best songs over a half-century of a career. As much as I heard “Margaritaville” and “Volcano” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise” rather frequently from the other Parrotheads in my family, the song they picked for number one may be rather fitting not just for the conclusion of Buffet’s mortality, but for the many times we need to take rest (Sabbath or otherwise) and reflect on the beautiful vista of this life, whether it be from beaches or not. “Son of a Son of a Sailor” includes the lines:

As the son of a son of a sailor
I went out on the sea for adventure
Expanding the view of the captain and crew
Like a man just released from indenture
As a dreamer of dreams and a travelin’ man
I have chalked up many a mile
Read dozens of books about heroes and crooks
And I learned much from both of their styles

And perhaps most fitting of all:

Haul the sheet in as we ride on the wind
That our forefathers harnessed before us
Hear the bells ring as the tight rigging sings
It’s a son of a gun of a chorus

It is a most beautiful chorus that we’ve been reeled into with the ultimate relaxing and hope-filled restoration of the Great News of Jesus Christ. It sustains us no matter if our waters are choppy or smooth sailing. We meet plenty of other sailors along the way, all with different styles and musical preferences, and we all learn to take a bit here and there in applying to better travel our course ahead. And whether we’re an AM-er or FM-er or a clapper or not or a crooner-appreciator or Parrothead, the lyrics of God’s love for us will never change. It is a paradise not limited for some far-off distance beyond the waters and skies, but it’s been brought to our mortal shore already in Jesus Christ. And that most “Amazing Grace” will never be taken away. Thanks be to God, indeed!

In Christ,
Pastor Brad

Image: from JimmyBuffet.com