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The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

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The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

Jimmy Buffett: Remembering a Legend

Jimmy Buffett: Remembering a Legend
AP Photo/Matt Sayles

On Sept. 1 2023, Jimmy Buffett — widely known for his hit song “Margaritaville” — passed away at age 76

Buffett’s music career began its ascent at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Hattiesburg campus with the creation of “The Coral Reefer Band,” according to the USM website’s tribute to Buffett. He also played with a band called “The Upstairs Alliance,” and spent time before and after fame as a solo artist.

Buffett was best known for his laid-back and beachy vibes, with aptly-named popular songs including “Son of Sailor” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise.” Perhaps less popularly discussed is Buffett’s impact on modern country music, described in the Rolling Stone. Buffett popularized the almost fantasy-esque relaxed and summery storytelling that runs through country music today and helped develop the modern country sound.

Juniors Leah Massa and Tilly Morris noted the universality of the music’s emotional resonance.

“It’s a tough loss — he had a big impact on the music world and I feel like everyone has memories tied to his songs,” Morris said.

“He was a voice that people knew, something familiar, always a place of solace no matter where you were,” Massa agreed.

Buffett continued producing hits well past what most artists would consider their prime, including a collaboration with Zac Brown Band on the popular song “Knee Deep” in 2011. He truly embodied the ever-young spirit of his music.

To love Buffett and his music was a multi-generational link – a shared embodiment of the lazy haze emblematic of summer and youth. Colgate junior Liz Armstrong expressed profound sadness at the news of Buffett’s passing and commented on how she inherited pieces of her parent’s Buffett memories. 

“Jimmy? Wow, I can’t believe he’s actually gone! Tonight you will hear the sound of hearts breaking all over the world because of this sad, sad news,” Armstrong said. “Back in my hometown, Jimmy was one of the most beloved musicians. A few years ago my parents were going through their old clothes and making a pile for Goodwill, and just before taking the trash bag of clothes away, there it was. I had spotted my mom’s old Jimmy Buffett ‘Margaritaville’ t-shirt! How could she discard him in such a way? So that is the story of how I saved Jimmy from the Goodwill bins, and to this very day that shirt is still one of my favorite graphic tees! So, yes, he will be missed.”

The Rolling Stone profile on Buffett emphasized the “melancholy” that set a unique undertone through his music and made it stand out from the universe of similar songs he inspired. His fans — called “Parrotheads” — tend not to focus on the moodier currents through some of his music, using his songs more as beach party anthems. Buffett certainly embraced the more positive energy his followers found in his music, parlaying his greatest hit into a financial powerhouse based on beachy resort imagery.

Buffett aggressively capitalized on “Margaritaville’s” success by spawning a small empire of restaurants, resorts and other enterprises under the same name. Junior Gabby Urbano remarked on the improbability of one song creating such a lucrative brand.

“Crazy how he made so much money off one song about getting [intoxicated],” Urbano said.

It’s a sentiment that Buffett would likely have appreciated.

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About the Contributor
LJ Coady
LJ Coady, Baker's Dozen Editor (Fall)
LJ Coady is a junior from Houston, TX concentrating in political science with minors in history and religion. She has previously served as a writer for the Baker's Dozen, Arts & Features, News, and Commentary sections.

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