Exploring the oddity of Jimmy Buffett’s career as a best-selling author

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On September 1st, 2023, hearts across the US and the world sank as they took to Jimmy Buffett’s website and read the following: “Jimmy passed away peacefully on the night of September 1st surrounded by his family, friends, music, and dogs. He lived his life like a song till the very last breath and will be missed beyond measure by so many.”

While it’s sad news, the tribute is incredibly fitting. Firstly, “missed beyond measure” is a fun tribute towards Buffett’s love of cocktails and his most famous track, ‘Margaritaville’. Second, the reference to music is a sweet nod towards what made Buffett a household name and so important to so many. His music inspired people, got them dancing, and made them happy for decades. When he passed away, he left a large hole in the world of music that won’t be filled any time soon.

His stamp on the world can be best personified in the tributes that followed his passing. Six months later, the concert Keep The Party Going: A Tribute to Jimmy Buffett was held in his honour. His band played alongside legends such as Paul McCartney, Sheryl Crow, and Dave Grohl, who all performed tributes to the singer. The gig ended with everyone in attendance taking to the stage and joining in with ‘Margaritaville’ in what was a happy send-off for a man whose life was dominated by music.

When somebody’s tribute is so heavily shrouded in music, it’s hard to think of them as anything other than a musician. This is how many people considered Buffett in life, as his gigs were always go-to’s for fun-loving partygoers, and his music was the focal point of sunshine-lit dancefloors worldwide. However, there was another, more obscure side to his artistic mind.

As well as being a hit-making singer, Buffett was also an exceptional author. He was responsible for three number-one best-selling books, each of which showed a different side of him and gave people an insight into just how much majesty he had over the written word.

One of his popular books was his biography, A Pirate Looks at Fifty. This is probably the least surprising book on the list, as many famous musicians end up writing biographies, and so long as they have a big fanbase, they tend to do quite well. However, the other two entries are works of fiction that flex his ability to create long—and short-form narratives.

Buffett’s short story collection was linked to his music, as it was called Tales from Margaritaville. Published in 1989, the book is broken up into three sections, all of which contain their very own short stories. The sections are ‘The Heat Wave Chronicles’, ‘Margarita Madness’ and ‘Son of a Son of a Sailor’. Though each story brings different characters, themes and storylines, the book’s overall aim is to make the reader smile. Similar to his music, each of the tales is laced with humour. They don’t take themselves too seriously but make for an easy, light-hearted, engaging read.

Buffett’s novel was called Where Is Joe Merchant? Published in ’92, the book follows a seaplane pilot, Frank Bama, and haemorrhoid-ointment heiress, Trover Kane, on their travels to find and find Kane’s brother, the rock star Joe Merchant. The story is filled with fun characters who are more than likely based on people Buffett met in his career as a musician. A lot of the tales within may also be inspired by real-life events. Overall, the book is an exciting read and well worth glancing over for people looking for a fun and gripping story.

Jimmy Buffett’s life revolved around music. It’s what he was best known for and what became the focal point of the tributes rolled out to him. That being said, he continued to flaunt his creative know-how throughout his life, and he also saw massive success as an author of various forms of writing.

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