To wake up to this one is a blow to the heart.
If you grew up in South Florida in the 1970s, his music was part of the soundtrack of your life.
If you happened to attend the University of Florida in the early 1980s, you are secretly sure that the alma mater isn’t that boring thing someone periodically dragged out at a sporting event. The alma mater was surely the touching, beautiful ode to love, “Why Don’t We Get Drunk and Screw.”
That little slice of bawdy hilarity wasn’t his best song, of course. Neither was “Margaritaville,” the one that made him a star.
Go back and listen to “Come Monday,” the first song I ever heard of his on the radio.
Or the masterpiece that is “A Pirate Looks at Forty,” a song that grew more and more meaningful to me as I stumbled through a career in journalism in the 21st century (“My occupational hazard being my occupation’s just not around”).
“He Went to Paris” and “Death of an Unpopular Poet” make me cry up to this day and probably will do so even more after this day.
If I’m in a lousy mood, “Peanut Butter Conspiracy” and “Great Filling Station Hold-Up” and “The Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful” can make me smile and make me think of my high school friend and college roommate Stacey Sachs, who died at 50 long before she should have.
And every June through November, “Trying to Reason with the Hurricane Season” rolls round in my head on a constant basis.
Jimmy was one hell of a businessman and one hell of a Miami Heat fan (I too would probably have been escorted once or twice out of the arena for yelling something unseemly at a ref, if only my seats were in row 2 instead of 22).
It seemed like he was living his best life at all possible times, and I hope that was true. We lost him too soon, but he really added something to my life.
He wrote this line decades ago, but it’s a fitting epitaph: Some of it’s magic, some of it’s tragic, but he had a good life all the way.