As you might have guessed from my Christmas blog, my family had listened to Jimmy Buffett for as long as I can remember. I was practically spoon-fed his lyrics throughout my childhood years aboard boats. My father’s love for his music eventually became my own and album after album carried us through year after year. I would guess that I can recite nearly as many songs as Jimmy himself. Anyone whose parents played a particular CD again and again throughout their childhood, knows that music rests somewhere special in our memories. After a few phone calls confirmed the rumors, I decided I would have to be there to represent my family.
And so I made a last minute passage and pulled up a mooring at the Bora Bora Yacht Club on the night of the first show. It was Jessica’s birthday, too, and so champagne came out and we pulled up to the dock at Bloody Mary’s to offload for the show. The best part about this gig was that Jimmy was doing it just for fun. He was donating all the profits to build a playground for the kids. Hardly anyone from the island knew Jimmy Buffett anyway…I presumed that he just liked to play for a small group of people in a faraway place, like he did when he started out.
On a small island in the middle of the South Pacific, if someone from afar comes to play music, it’s sure that people will turn up to check it out. And so, Jessica and I and a few select others surprised the locals around us as we sang wholeheartedly to the lyrics once Jimmy got underway. I blinked my eyes again and again…unable to believe the whole thing was real. There was the man, just 15 feet in front of me on a small wooden stage, barefoot and smiling and singing with that familiar southern twang that I had grown up hearing. The last time I’d been to a concert was in Irvine with 130,000 other people where I had nearly been stampeded by the crowd of crazy ‘parrotheads’.
When it came time to sing ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’, Jimmy explained that he usually has female backup singers and that he would need some help from the audience. By that time liquid courage was pumping through my veins and Jess and I arrived on stage ready to sing. Not a syllable did I miss; Jimmy was floored!
After the fabulous show, I wandered to the front of the restaurant and saw a private side room guarded by an extraordinarily tall, stern-faced black man. I felt strangely compelled in his direction.
“Hello, sir, I just wanted to make sure everything was okay with the band.” I blathered.
“Uh, well, yes, everything is just fine, thank….” He replied.
“Let her in.” A voice interrupted from behind him.
I walked into the cool, air-conditioned room. Eight to ten men stood around chatting, but at once they fell silent, turned and stared, as I stepped into the room.
“Well, come in, then…here, have a seat,” Jimmy said as he scooted to one side of the couch.
Slightly speechless yet pleasantly inebriated, I replied to their questions about the boat and sailing there, etc. I explained to Jimmy that his lyrics were part of what created my dream to sail around the world and I thanked him for all the joy that his music had brought my family and me over the years. He was humbly flattered and turned the conversation back to me. Soon another man entered and asked him if he’d like to eat something. He went outside to do some autographs and chat with the people and I wandered away down the dock in shock at what had just happened.