My older brother sent me a gift in the mail. It was Jimmy Buffett's last album, "Equal Strain On All Parts." It was not a huge surprise, since he emailed me the day the release was announced. He didn't want me to rush out and buy one for myself. He was going to take care of this one.
Much in the same way he has taken care of so many of these transactions before. It was my older brother who first introduced me to Jimmy Buffett way back in 1979, when he slid a few of Key West's favorite crooner onto a mix tape for me and my friends. Summertime for me in the 1980's were not complete without a trip to Red Rocks with my brother and all our Parrothead friends to sing along with all those songs we knew by heart.
When I opened up that CD, the last Jimmy Buffett album, all the memories I had of warm summer evenings in various stages of inebriation. I thought about the gusto with which we would harmonize. I looked forward to each opportunity I had to bring a new Parrothead into the fold. When I moved out to California, I continued to spread the word. "You've never been to a Buffett show?" I could fix that.
Years passed. Complications and obligations mounted. Eventually the obsession dulled, as being a grown up became more consuming. But in the background, I could always hear Margaritaville calling. When Jimmy Buffett passed away two months ago, this last record was already completed. There would be no tour for this one. But the songs were there to remind me why he was such a presence in my life. My brother's life.
And on one track, "My Gummie Just Kicked In," Paul McCartney played bass. Which was significant since it was my older brother who also introduced me to Paul's old band, The Beatles. As synchronous events would have it, the day that Jimmy's album showed up in my mailbox, The Beatles released their last single: "Now And Then." Everything old was new again.
For a moment or two. And I remembered all that music and all the words and sounds that my older brother brought to me. "Wrinkles will only go where the smiles have been," he wrote once upon a time.
What a good line.