I was raised on the musical musings of Southern son, Jimmy Buffett. When I bought my first iPod nano in the sixth grade, before I knew how to use iTunes, I downloaded music from my dad's circa 1980 CDs. For the longest time, I just had 72 songs, ranging from John Denver to Hootie and the Blowfish. Jimmy Buffett's 1985, "Songs You Know By Heart," found its way into my 12-year-old heart (with the exception of "Why Don't We Get Drunk," which inexplicably didn't make its way onto my pink nano), and hasn't ever found its way out.
The world has grown ever-darker with every day that passes. We wake up to stories of mass murders in Paris, dead police officers here in the United States, police brutality and sadness and disappointment from so many different angles.
I woke up this morning and learned that three police officers were feared dead after a calculated shooting in Baton Rouge, LA. I lifted up the prayer that's become all too familiar during this time, the same one I've sent up for Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, the five dead in Dallas and the scores of people slaughtered in Nice, France and I put in my earbuds. I couldn't bear to listen to anymore bad news.
As I write this, I'm listening to Jimmy's aforementioned album, and I want so badly to believe him when he says, "Come Monday, it'll be alright." Something about the detached-from-the-rat-race, modern pirate music that made Mr. Buffett famous is one of the most airtight comforts I've found in a long time. It transports the listener to a fictional beach somewhere on the Gulf of Mexico, a narrow spit of land affectionately referred to as Margaritaville, where we're on island time. It's always 5 o'clock on this white sand beach and nothing matters except for the cheeseburgers we're eating in this paradise. I hear the call of mother mother ocean, and I want nothing more than to sail upon her waters.
I wish that world existed. I wish I could go where the volcano blows, I wish I could go where it's warm and I desperately wish that come Monday, everything would be alright with the world.
But, despite all the wishes I can wish upon all the stars in the sky, that world doesn't exist, at least for most of us. However, with a set of headphones and the right mindset, all of us can enjoy the sunny, sandy escape that "Songs You Know By Heart" provides us for 42 minutes.
Thank you, Mr. Buffett, for providing us with this musical masterpiece, and for allowing us a way to shut out the world and close our eyes and escape to somewhere where nothing is too hard or too harsh, except maybe the sun and figuring out where our next big, warm bun and huge hunk of meat is coming from in the paradise you sing about.
I hope, when we all pause after (God willing), "86 years of perpetual motion," we can say "Yeah, some of it's magic, some of it's tragic, but I had a good life all the way."